QUESTIONS are being asked over why £2,500 of tax payers’ money was spent with a private firm on a failed bid for cash to scope out a possible fire service merger.
Gloucestershire County Council paid Dandelion Business Solutions the sum for five days work to try and get £150,000 from the Government’s Transformational Challenge Award.
The bid failed but if it had succeeded Gloucestershire County Council could have used the £150,000 to consider combining the fire and rescue service with a neighbour, with the ambulance service, or staying as it is.
Councillor Hilton is against a merger as he says the county fire service is in good shape - and the bid didn’t fit the criteria for funding.
"The bid for transformation funding failed, because it was poorly considered and badly drafted and done over the heads of councillors and Gloucestershire fire and rescue service,” he said.
“The bid was submitted by the commissioning director at Shire Hall with the help of Dandelion Business Solutions.
“Why Dandelion Business Solutions was employed in the first place is a question that still has to be answered.
“Its website does not even name senior personnel or give a postal address.
“This failed bid has damaged the good reputation of our fire and rescue service within the fire sector and created instability in Gloucestershire. “Someone at the very top at Shire Hall should publicly apologise.”
Council number crunchers estimated the savings from a merger could be as high as 27 per cent, from a current fire and rescue budget of £18.3million.
A council spokesman confirmed Dandelion Business Solutions was paid £2,500 for five days work on bidding for the money.
The company provided “specialist support and advice” with the Transformation Challenge Award submission, which was denied.
Dandelion Business Solutions director Anna Villette said: “I was asked to support Gloucestershire County Council to apply for funding, and on this occasion alongside many other bids submitted by other organisations, it was unsuccessful.”
Geoff Sallis, deputy chief fire officer, said: “We applied for government funding to look at how Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service can keep doing a great job in future.
“As with all council services, it’s really important we look carefully at whether we can do things better.
“It didn’t rule in, or rule out, any specific options. We weren’t successful in the bid this time.”