Audit Commission: 'No grounds' for SouthWest One deal investigation

The Audit Commission has decided there are no grounds to investigate a deal between Somerset County Council and Avon and Somerset Police.

The force paid an initial £2.8m to the council in order to join SouthWest One - a company set up to handle public bodies' administrative services.

It promised to pay a further £2.17m if any other organisation joined the company.

A former council employee complained to the Audit Commission about the deal.

'Unlikely to join'

Former council employee Dave Orr complained to the commission, saying that people living in the former Avon county area are being subsidised by the deal in breach of local government rules.

The council has admitted it is unlikely any more firms will join SouthWest One and the £2.17m instalment is unlikely to be paid.

SouthWest One was set up in 2007 by the county council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and IBM, nine months before the police force joined.

The company was intended to allow public bodies to save money by sharing human resources, payroll and call-handling staff.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said the force paid the money towards a deal for accounting software.

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