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Bournemouth suspends Mouchel critic

2nd Nov 2011
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The meltdown of outsourcer Mouchel claimed another victim after Bournemouth Council suspended chief accountant Stephen Parker, according to PublicTechnology.net.

Private Eye has also been following the story, reporting that Parker was disciplined after sending an email to councillors rasing doubts about the “value for money and deliverability” of an extension to its 10-year, £148m shared services contract. Mouchel, which already handles facilities management, technology and benefits for the council, was due to take charge of the finance and HR departments in December.

The project is already £3m over budget and the projected savings have been revised downwards by £42m, the accountant claimed.

The council is now conducting an investigation into the shared services provider, which has seen the departure of both its CEO and chairman, and their interim replacement in recent weeks. After a spreadsheet error put a dent in its trading figures, the company’s share price plummeted and debts amounting to £87m came to light. Mouchel is now selling off assets to shore up its financial position.

Even before Parker sent his critical memo, doubts were being reported about Bournemouth’s deal Mouchel. The company provides similar services to Milton Keynes and Oldham and several central government departments.

Councillor John Beesley, the cabinet member for resources at Bournemouth commented, “In light of recent announcement from Mouchel and the company’s expected financial reporting, cabinet has authorised the chief executive to prepare an assessment of any risk variations arising from Mouchel’s full year accounts or other information prior to signing the contract.”

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By Robert Hurn
03rd Nov 2011 15:56

Free Speech

Does this not extend to the Peoples' Republic of Bournemouth?

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David Ross
By davidross
08th Nov 2011 12:10

It has been in the Bournemouth Echo for some weeks (see their w

As a ratepayer I think Mr Parker's treatment has been a disgrace

Here is a report which points out that by suspending him they were able to prevent him speaking to an audit committee. And I thought whistle blowers were to be looked after these days !

We are supposed to make grubby little reports that clients have converted pencils and postage stamps to their own use, but when an Accountant performs a significant service he is hounded out.

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By jobrown
08th Nov 2011 12:05

Whistleblowing

Sounds like the Chief Accountant was blowing the whistle and as usual in whistleblowing cases he then became the problem. Accountants need PIDA protection very much!

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By Robert Hurn
08th Nov 2011 13:08

The Price of Honesty

The equation honesty = unemployment will do little to encourage other whistle-blowers to come forward.  What a damming indictment of the local authority.  It is insufficient for the local councillors to cry foul play, they owe it to Mr Parker and the local tax payers to bring those responsible to account.

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
09th Nov 2011 09:04

More to this?

As both a qualified accountant and councillor, as far as I can see Parker was doing his job. Even in self-declared 'member-led' councils (and what council doesn't claim that?), we expect our professional council officers to provide technical steers, and the 'Chief Accountant' (especially, but not only, if he is the section 151 officer) is duty bound to raise such concerns.

From my experience, I suspect this has little to do with any memo. The politics between council officers, especially at the top, can be far more vicious than any of the amateur shenanigans we get up to in the council chamber.

 

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