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Somerset County Council to review 'shambolic' SAP system

IBM contract in public spotlight (again)

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In opposition, the Conservatives criticised Somerset CC's Southwest One "secretive" outsourcing deal with IBM. Now the party is in control, after beating the Liberal Democrats in last week's county council elections.

"Lately they've made some awful mistakes, and it's those mistakes we need to put right," Ken Maddock, Conservative group leader, said of the Liberal Democrats after his victory. Speaking to BBC News, he said he would interview Somerset CC's chief executive, Alan Jones, who introduced Southwest One, today.

In campaigning for the election, the local Conservative Party criticised aspects of Southwest One, the county's joint venture with IBM, Taunton Deane DC and Avon and Somerset Police, and promised a review.

The attacks focused on Southwest One's use of SAP software for paying invoices. Somerset CC's Conservative group complained that the system's start date had been delayed several times and was failing to pay suppliers, risking the stability of local businesses. It added that, as an emergency measure, the council was paying invoices of under £20,000 without checking their validity.

In a statement made before the results, Maddock said: "What needs to happen now is we should firstly stop all payments to the supplier of the new system. Secondly, we should revert to the previous reliable method of paying our bills promptly. And thirdly, we should issue an abject and public apology to anyone who has suffered as a consequence of this shambles.

"If we win the election, we will review the whole set-up from square one, and put it on a sound business footing," he added.

"I think Ken's intention is for a fully independent review of Southwest One," Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgewater and a critic of the deal, told GC News on 5 June. "It's a complete shambles." He added that currently, Maddock did not know what was in the contract governing the joint venture, due to its confidentiality clauses.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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