By email: VictimRightToReview@gloucestershire.pnn.police.uk
FAO: Detective Superintendent Richard Ocone
Cc: Martin Surl. Police & Crime Commissioner, Gloucestershire
Victims Right to Review. Alleged Misconduct in Public Office by Peter Bungard, Chief Executive, Gloucestershire County Council. Resulting in the wrongful award of a £650M contract between GCC and UBB to build an incinerator in Gloucestershire.
Further alleged misconduct to hide the facts from Councillors and the public in clear breach of duty.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is responsible for investigating alleged Misconduct in Public Office by Peter Bungard. The original investigation followed a report given by Cllr Brian Oosthuysen to Gloucestershire police in 2018, and subsequent interviews with him and others. However the investigation was passed over to Wiltshire Constabulary. We understand that Wiltshire police have dropped this investigation on the grounds “that it did not meet the evidence threshold”, and that this was not referred to the CPS.
It is alleged that Mr Bungard criminally misconducted himself, including by arranging to meet with Cllr Brian Oosthuysen, Chair of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, privately the night before a crucial vote of that committee. The vote was on whether to ‘call in’ - for review by the full Council - a renegotiated contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty which increased the cost of the Javelin Park incinerator by 30 % to £650 million.
At that hastily arranged private meeting on the night of 19th November 2015, as Cllr Oosthuysen has confirmed, Mr Bungard tried to persuade him to vote against the call-in decision. It is a matter of record that the very next day at the Scrutiny Committee meeting, Mr Oosthuysen voted as a Member in favour of the call-in but when the vote was tied, then voted as Chair against the call-in. As a result the new contract remained secret from the full Council, hiding what was effectively an improper private deal.
We now know that a new contract was being secretly negotiated between UBB and GCC and included a £150 million increase in costs to the County. This increase is beyond any exemption allowed within public procurement regulations and so required a new competitive tendering process. Had this occurred it is likely that the County would have received cheaper and more environmentally sound bids. The vote Mr Bungard sought to influence was to hide the details of this wrongful contract award from councillors and the public.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service an offence of Misconduct in Public Office occurs when:
a public officer acting as such;
wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself;
to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder;
without reasonable excuse or justification.
The public has every right to expect (‘trust’) the Chief Executive to act impartially, in the public’s interest and with openness. This is also a matter of public duty, and GCC policy. We believe that there is clear evidence that Peter Bungard wilfully misconducted himself to such a degree to be an abuse of the public’s trust in the office of Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council.
As residents of Gloucestershire we are victims of this crime. We are victims of the undermining of accountable democracy; of the huge increase in cost paid for out of public money (at least £150M of increased cost secretly agreed with the contractor); of the compromise to other Council services to fund this; of harmful and irreversible environmental damage; and of pollution dangerous to human health.
As a victim I ask you to re-open this case.
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