As The Blogger reported here well before Christmas, a Business West press release published verbatim in yesterday’s Evening Cancer confirms that Business West will be merging with Swindon based GWE to form an organisation, GWE Business West, “to represent the views of its business clients and members at regional and national, public and private sector forums.”
Intriguingly the press release makes no mention of the role of Merchant Venturers and SWRDA board members John Savage and Colin Skellett (Blogger passim) in this new organisation. As predicted, Savage will be the CEO of the new organisation and Skellett will co-chair alongside GWE’s Nicky Morrison – neither a venturer nor a SWRDA board member – who’s quoted copiously in the press release.
Morrison, however, does confirm one of the key objects of this new organisation is to target SWRDA funds, which Savage and Skellett are directly responsible for “independently” disbursing on our behalf:
“The Government is looking for ways to simplify and increase the cost-effectiveness of its business support contracts, and public sector organisations, such as the South West Regional Development Agency and the Government Office for the South West, favour a regional focus.”
No mention is made in the press release about Northern Arc Ltd., a firm set up in April this year specifically to receive £8m worth of SWRDA funding to provide “Business Link services”. Northern Arc is now fully controlled by GWE Business West, which in turn is controlled by Skellett and Savage who are also responsible for awarding the money as SWRDA board members.
At present nobody seems to give a toss about this pair’s multi-million pound conflict of interest at the public’s expense.
COMING SOON: The Bristol Blogger’s John Savage profile – what he doesn’t want you to know …