Deal under scrutiny

ANGUS Council’s sponsorship deal with Scottish golfer Catriona Matthew was set to come under scrutiny at yesterday’s (Thursday) meeting of the full council in Forfar held after the Arbroath Herald went to press.

Arbroath councillors Peter Nield and Jim Millar were to ask why no report on the effectiveness of the first year’s sponsorship had been submitted, as had been required under the terms of the initial arrangement. And they suggested that because of the current financial situation it might be sensible not to continue with the second year of the sponsorship deal.

In March of last year, the authority agreed to sponsor Ms Matthew to the sum of £50,000 over two years. In return she would act as an ambassador for Carnoustie Country Golf and promote the brand in tournaments around the world.

The deal was that she would carry the Carnoustie Country logo in all events she takes part in, and she would not promote any other destination; Carnoustie Country would have the use of global advertising rights allowing the use of her name, image, fame and endorsement in any promotional and marketing activity; and she would devote two days per year to ‘service days’, when she would act as host at an assortment of activities.

In a communication with Richard Stiff, chief executive of the council, the two Arbroath councillors asked why a report on the success, or otherwise, of the first stage of the sponsorship deal had not been submitted.

They stated: “As the first year is at an end for the Catriona Matthew’s sponsorship and year two is to begin, we are concerned that report 189/11 as approved by council is not being complied with. Report 189/11 made it an instruction that officers would bring back a full report on the success or otherwise at the nine-month stage.

“It also instructed officers that any second-year continuation would be dependent upon that being approved by council. Nine months was up in December and now three months on, no report has been brought and the contract extension cannot be authorised until approved by council.”

They went on: “Report 189/11 is very clear and I want your assurance no officer or member has authorised an extension to year one and that this will be addressed at full council. To that end we submit the following motion for the March 22 council meeting.”

The motion reads:

In accordance with report 189/11 this council instructs the director of infrastructure services to bring a report to the council meeting on April 19 detailing the following:

1, Why was a report based on the nine-month stage of the first year’s contract not brought to council as instructed by report 189/11 and details of who decided not to bring a timeous report as expected by report 189/11?

2, Members be given an assurance that no temporary or otherwise extension of the contract has been given.

3, As per report 189/11 the details of the success or otherwise be provided to council and a recommendation of continuance or otherwise be made.

4, An explanation of why the success criteria was chosen, by whom and in consultation with whom.

Councillors Nield and Millar concluded: “With cuts across the council in services and staff, justification for spending another £25,000 on a person wearing a badge is indefensible.

“Maybe when money was plentiful and cuts not so deep as now this sort of spending could have been justified but not now. Some residents are struggling to make ends meet, and we would like every scrap of evidence before making up our minds on this matter.”

In response, Mr Stiff stated: “I have looked at the report referred to, and the minute of the March 24, 2011, council meeting and it is clear that year two of the sponsorship arrangement was not to proceed until a decision was made by council, and that requires a report at some point.

“My understanding is that Dave Valentine has negotiated a temporary ‘suspension’ of the arrangement with Ms Matthew’s management pending a decision on year two being made.

“I have informed relevant officers that must be the position and no further payment should be made after March 31 until the matter has been considered and resolved. I will discuss with relevant officers the possibility of a report coming to the council meeting on March 22.”