Service users key

Kevin Cranney

Kevin Cranney

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A COUNCILLOR says he is “disappointed” the company he is chairman of lost out on the new contract for an independent living scheme.

But Councillor Kevin Cranney says the service users come first and he will work to ensure a smooth hand-over for the clients.

The Labour councillor is chairman of Who Cares North East, which lost out to a consortium led by Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA) to run the town-wide low level support service.

Hartlepool Borough Council awarded the contract, which was previously held by Who Cares North East, to HVDA, based in Victoria Road.

Coun Cranney said: “I am disappointed at the decision.

“But we are going to work with Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency to ensure that there is a smooth transition for the clients.

“It is all about the people that use the low level support service, they are the most important people.”

Coun Cranney added this did not mean the end of Who Cares North East and said the organisation would still be running and looking at other opportunities.

Back in 2011, the council awarded Who Cares North East a contract worth £680,000 over two years to run the town-wide handyperson, connected care and independent living service.

But the contract was put up for tender after the former cabinet committee raised concerns about the governance arrangements.

Council auditors had also raised concerns about administrative procedures at Who Cares (NE), which is currently running the scheme on a monthly basis.

Officers concluded “limited assurance” could be placed on the procedures to manage council funds provided to the community interest company, which also has bases at Burbank and West View.

A council spokesman said the new contract was awarded after a “full evaluation” of the bids that were submitted.

As reported yesterday, the new contract starts on October 1 and ends on March 31, 2014 and HVDA will be working closely with other organisations including Hartlepool and East Durham Mind, Hartlepool Carers and NDC Trust.

HVDA manager Keith Bayley said he was “very pleased,” adding their strength was that they work with lots of different organisations.