Cornell turns up the heat on Dechan and Baillie after multi million pound dud PPE revelations

STROUD DISTRICT COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP LEADER DOINA CORNELL HAS CALLED on Steve Dechan to return millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money after an investigation showed fewer than 1 in 400 visors made by his company passed safety standards.

The Times reported at the end of 2020 how Dechan, a former Conservative town councillor who campaigned for Siobhan Baillie in the 2019 General Election, received a £120 million government contract to provide 120 million face shields through the VIP fast-track lane.

This weekend further revelations showed the Health and Safety Executive found the visors failed to reach the required standards so could not be used. Concerns were also raised about incorrect paperwork and uncertified testing of the PPE.

However, again Dechan seems to have received preferential treatment as the Department of Health overruled the HSE and approved the visors. Even so, The Times says just 274,200 visors were delivered, representing 0.23% of the overall stock, meaning each visor cost £423.

In contrast, local firm The Cotswold Printing Company was providing similar visors (manufactured by them, assembled by volunteers) to the NHS for free at the height of the PPE shortage last year.

Cllr Cornell has also called on MP Siobhan Baillie to instigate a government investigation into how Dechan received the contract for the visors, despite him having no experience providing similar equipment, and to ensure he is held to account for failing to fulfil the contract.

Cllr Cornell said: “Steve Dechan was given millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to provide visors which he failed to do. Why hasn’t he been asked to give back the money he received? Our council has high standards when it comes to procurement and contracts, even at the height of the pandemic. We’d expect central government to have the same care for public funds.

“On behalf of local citizens, we call on Stroud’s MP to join us in standing up for transparency and honesty in awarding government contracts. Taxpayers expect value for money, not to be treated like fools.”

Last December, Cllr Cornell joined Stroud district and county councillors in writing to the SNJ to criticise the awarding of £276m of public money to Steve Dechan’s company, P14, to provide PPE.

Relevant links

“Former Tory councillor got £120m ‘VIP lane’ government contract for face shields now lying unused” — Independent
25 July 2021

“£420 per visor: the price of ministers’ PPE panic” — The Times
25 July 2021

“Tory Steve Dechan’s £276m in PPE contracts lands him a place in the country” — The Times
22 November 2020

“Exposed: Special procurement channels for ‘VIPs’ and Cabinet contacts” — the Good Law Project
29 October 2020

Stroud Labour links

“Happy to Help” — CLP Newsletter
Labour party members have joined community activists in responding to the Coronavirus crisis.
May 2020