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Builder submitted false tenders to get £21,500 council grant

Fort William Sheriff Court.
Fort William Sheriff Court.

A builder who submitted false tenders to get a £21,500 council grant escaped serious punishment in court yesterday due to it being “a highly unusual case”.

Norman Clark, 54, a self employed builder, pleaded guilty at Fort William Sheriff Court yesterday.

The married father-of-three admitted that between 2011 and 2012 at the Highland Council’s leader programme at its Fort William office he ‘ uttered as genuine’ two documents claiming to be tenders from Stewart Construction and GCF for work at the Linnhe Leisure Centre, along with an application form.

The charge went on that Clark knew the tenders were false” whereby a financial grant was provided to Linnhe Leisure for renovation work and equipment at a children’s play area at the Nevis Centre”.

Fiscal Cat Dalrymple told Sheriff Bill Taylor, “The accused made no personal gain by what he did.”

Rules for the council grant require that three tenders be obtained and the lowest got the grant.

Mr Clark told the council that a firm, Oak Developments, submitted the lowest quote but that firm does not exist, said the fiscal.

She added: “Some time after the grant was awarded a letter from a whistle-blower was sent to the council claiming that impropriety had been involved in the grant claim.

“And the two local firms mentioned had not submitted tenders.

“The accused told police he had difficulty getting quotes and made up the winning firm.”

Defence lawyer Hamish Melrose told the court his client had lived in Fort William for 21 years and in 2003 was made a director- later chairman – of Linnhe Leisure, the voluntary organisation that ran the council-owned entertainments and conference building, Nevis Centre.

Clark had difficulties getting tenders for the play area work and saw time running out for getting the grant so carried out the ruse.

Said the lawyer: “He employed local tradesmen to carry out the work and made no personal gain.That was not the purpose of what he did.”

Said the sheriff,”This is a highly unusual case to come before the court.

“The false pretence regarding the tenders was not motivated by personal gain but to ensure the completion of a project to the benefit of local people.”

He deferred sentence for a year.

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