Contracts row over Elton gig

Elton John's concert on Blackpool promenade.

Elton John's concert on Blackpool promenade.

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TOURISM chiefs have been reprimanded over the handling of contracts linked to last year’s Elton John concert in Blackpool.

Cuffe and Taylor Event Management, based in Lytham, complained about the tendering process after they were denied the chance to bid for the contract to install the stage on the Tower Festival Headland which was used by Elton John, The Wanted and McFly, and John Barrowman, for concerts last June.

They said the contract should have been advertised by Marketing Blackpool and Blackpool Council.

A government inquiry recommended the council openly advertise contracts in future.

A report by the Cabinet Office said: “The Cabinet Office investigated and the council explained they put a contract in place at short notice and had not advertised it.

“Even though leisure and entertainment contracts are not subject to the full rigour of the EU procurement rules, we recommended that they are openly advertised to ensure value for money.”

Andy Cheeseman Productions, which had worked previously with the council to build the stage of the Illuminations switch-ons, was given the contract to put up the stage for the series of events, which also included the Olympic Torch relay.

Cuffe and Taylor Event Management organises the annual Lytham Proms and brought The Wanted, McFly and John Barrowman to Blackpool Tower Festival Headland last summer.

Boss Peter Taylor said: “I am pleased the Cabinet Office recognised that in terms of what they did, although it was not illegal, it was not in best practice.

“We have decided not to take it any further legally, but as far as we are concerned we will not be putting events on at the Tower Festival Headland again.

“We are looking at some other projects in Blackpool, at other venues.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture on Blackpool Council, said: “The Cabinet Office investigation has shown Blackpool Council and Marketing Blackpool did not break any EU procurement rules.

“It is important to understand that, given the tight timescales for arranging these events, it would have been difficult to advertise the tenders publicly.

“It should be pointed out the company which was chosen has been in several previous competitive exercises for similar contracts previously and have a track record of providing value for money and delivering on their obligations.

“The council is currently in the process of finalising a new tendering framework.”

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