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    MP calls for government investigation of Southwest One shared services deal


    The local MP told Parliament that the government should audit Somerset County Council’s Southwest One outsourcing venture with the IBM to get to the bottom of dubious financial arrangements and broken promises made when the deal was signed in the year 2007. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset claimed in a speech in the House of Commons that the deal by which Somerset set up Southwest One had been corrupt. Using a parliamentary privilege to repeat an unsubstantiated allegation.

    For contractual compensation triggered after the council reduced its business with the outsource venture, he also revealed that the Somerset council had made an  annual contingency of £2.7m to settle a legal claim from Southwest One. They are calling on the secretary of the state to reopen those accounts for the inspection.

    Liddell-Grainger said that there is overwhelming evidence to prove that the auditors were grossly negligent Southwest One should be properly examined by the National Audit Office. The MP’s speech accused councilors and local government officers who did the £500 m deal with the IBM in 2007 of corruption. He said that it separately had a hard evidence that Somerset Council had used a financial bung to persuade an uncertain Avon and Somerset Police Authority to join the venture in the year 2007 because it would have been inviable of the other public bodies.

    David Orr a  local campaigner relying on an investigation, Liddell Grainger quoted from IBM’s original bid wherein it had told by Somerset that by the outsourcing its back office functions to IBM that it would generate local wealth of £600m every yea and create 400 new jobs. The Somerset officials had been reckless in signing the deal and its councilors had been dim. He also said that they were tired when they signed it at two o’clock in the morning under pressure from the IBM and had been fooled into thinking the deal was better than it was. The IBM was telling a huge porky, however the councilors were dim and officials reckless. The only other explanation is that the palms were being greased.

    Liddell-Grainger revealed that the Somerset would have an opportunity to cancel its failed outsource contract using a mid-term break at its five year mark. However, he said that the Southwest one which is 75% owned by the IBM would be able to claim compensation so high that it would prohibit the action. The Somerset County Council says it could not comment while it was in litigation with Southwest One.