Questions asked in Parliament about Northamptonshire commissioner's consultancy links

Commissioner Tony McArdle is a senior advisor to Newton Europe which last week won a lucrative contract with Northamptonshire County Council.

By Sarah Ward
Monday, 17th February 2020, 1:10 pm
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 1:10 pm
Tony McArdle is a senior advisor to Newton Europe which has won a large contract with Northamptonshire County Council.
Tony McArdle is a senior advisor to Newton Europe which has won a large contract with Northamptonshire County Council.

Questions have been asked in Parliament about the awarding of a lucrative adult social care contract to a firm linked to Northamptonshire’s government-appointed commissioner.

MP for Westminster North Karen Buck has asked the Secretary of State for local government Robert Jenrick a number of questions about the financial relationship between Tony McArdle and Newton Europe and requested the minister make a statement.

The handing of the multi-million-pound ‘risk and reward‘ style contract to Newton Europe raised eyebrows earlier this month, with former Northampton MP Sally Keeble calling the contract award unacceptable.

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Former Northampton MP Sally Keeble has said the contract award is 'unacceptable'.

The Conservative-run council, which is only just recovering from its financial crash in 2018, made the contract award behind closed doors with the press and public unable to view the report discussed by the cabinet.

Mr McArdle, who is paid an £800 daily rate which comes from Northamptonshire taxpayers, states on his interests listed on the county council’s website that he is a senior advisor to Newton Europe, although decided not to respond to questions from the Local Democracy Service about how long he has worked for Newton Europe or the nature of the work.

The firm itself has also declined to comment on the matter.

Karen Buck has asked questions about what restrictions are placed on Government-appointed commissioners who provide service to firms operating within their local authority area; whether the minister knows how much Mr McArdle has been paid by Newton Europe since he was sent into NCC in May 2018; how much Mr McArdle has been paid for his NCC services, what estimate the minister has made of the number and value of contracts given to Newton Europe since Mr McArdle joined and how many other firms tendered for the contract.

The Labour MP tabled the questions on Thursday and should receive a response in seven days.

In July last year it was revealed that on top of his salary Mr McArdle along with fellow commissioner Brian Roberts had claimed a collective sum of £193,000 in the 11 months between May 2018 when they joined the authority and March last year.

The claims included hotel stays, food and travel. The two commissioners have been in charge of cutting back Northamptonshire services to make sure the budget can balance. The authority made global headlines when it overspent by £40m in the 2018/19 financial year and had to sell off its new headquarters to raise some cash.