High expectation for new contract

Dave Stubbs Chief Executive Officer at Hartlepool Borough Council. Picture by FRANK REID
Dave Stubbs Chief Executive Officer at Hartlepool Borough Council. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL Borough Council’s chief executive said he is confident users of a scheme aimed at helping people live more independently will experience the same standard of service after it was awarded to a new organisation.

The local authority has awarded the contract for the town-wide low level support service to a consortium led by Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA).

HVDA will be working with other organisations including Hartlepool and East Durham Mind, Hartlepool Carers and NDC Trust for the length of the contract, which was held by Who Cares North East before they lost out in the tender process.

The new six-month contract, which runs from October 1 to March 31, 2014, is worth £170,000 with the council funding £25,000 and the rest from the NHS.

Dave Stubbs, council chief executive, said: “The service under the previous contract was a good service and I would expect for the lifetime of the contract, which is only six months, the low level support service would be to the same standard.

“The bid that we received was very comprehensive and the officers that awarded the contract were quite satisfied with the level of detail.”

He added Who Cares North East would be working alongside HVDA to ensure a “smooth” transition.

Speaking last week, Labour councillor Kevin Cranney, chairman of Who Cares North East, said the service users come first and he will work to ensure a smooth hand-over for the clients.

Coun Cranney, who admitted being disappointed with the decision, added: “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.

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