STROUD district councillors have demanded the Government investigate how PPE contracts were awarded to P14 Medical, a company owned by a former Conservative Stroud town councillor.

A letter signed by 14 Labour councillors called for an ‘urgent investigation’ into allegedly competition-free contracts given to companies during the pandemic.

They named P14, owned by Steve Dechan, 52, from Painswick, which was given three contracts worth £276m to supply face shields and gowns.

“As local councillors we hear heart-breaking cases every day from local people who have lost their jobs or their homes,” the letter read, whose signatories are from Gloucestershire County Council, Stroud District Council and four town and parish councils.

“It is shocking therefore to read story after story in the national press about how some firms and individuals have been making huge profits out of this crisis, awarded contracts worth millions of pounds without competition or any prior experience.”

A report from the National Audit Office found that PPE suppliers with political connections were directed to a ‘high-priority’ channel where bids were more likely to be successful.

More than 50 per cent of Covid-19 contracts were awarded without a competitive tender process, the report found.

Responding to the letter, Mr Dechan denied claims his company benefitted as a result of political affiliation.

“It’s a really ridiculous thing to say,” he said.

“We did an amazing job and we did it by the book, no favours, no leg-up, we did it on merit.

P14 was awarded a £120m contract in March and another £156m contract in June to supply PPE.

In the same month, Mr Dechan spent £1.5m on a Grade II listed home in Painswick.

“We are not 100 per cent certain if it was a competitive tender or not, we assumed it was a competitive tender,” he said.

“We had no reason to think it wouldn’t be a competitive tender because every tender we had ever done with the NHS was competitive.”

Mr Dechan suggested there should be an investigation into some of the other PPE contracts awarded to different companies, criticising those that resulted in unusable equipment.

“All of ours have been delivered on time, all to standard, zero b complaints,” said Mr Dechan.

“We did nothing but a remarkable job.”