A DEMAND for an investigation into £11m worth of deals done by Inverclyde's largest housing association is being backed by a councillor.

River Clyde Homes awarded five lucrative contracts to a single company whom it is claimed was the only bidder for the work, the Telegraph can reveal.

Now the vice chair of Inverclyde Council's regeneration committee, Councillor Colin Jackson, has declared his support for calls for an independent probe into RCH amid unease from its workforce and some tenants.

Cllr Jackson told the Telegraph that he has been trying for months to get answers from bosses about the contracts awarded to McDermott Group Ltd, to no avail.

Mr Jackson said: "It is the view of the workers, the views of certain tenants that they would like to see an independent investigation."

Asked if he supported that view, Cllr Jackson replied: "Yes, I do.

"It's not that I'm personally suspicious. Suspicions have been brought to me and I am just passing these suspicions on to River Clyde Homes and we are getting no dialogue, no response."

Cllr Jackson — who named McDermott Group as the company awarded the contracts — says he has been told by RCH staff that the firm was the only one to bid for the £11m worth of work.

He said: "The information that came to me originally was brought to me by members of staff of River Clyde Homes.

"They came to me and said, 'Here are these five contracts', which went to the one firm and the staff themselves found it suspicious.

"It is not so much that I find it suspicious, it's just the fact that it's unusual. The staff at River Clyde Homes want answers as to why they went to one company, whereas it would average out at five bids per tender.

"I presented it to the board and four or five months later we still don't have an answer.

"There might be a perfectly good reason for doing it, but we need the answers."

Cllr Jackson added: "I asked very well informed members of staff at River Clyde Homes if there was anything specific about these contracts, i.e. would a company need to have certain specialities that would exclude other companies from tendering and I was told no, they're just standard contracts.

"There was no reason to exclude any other company from tendering for them.

"So, it's unusual that only one firm would tender for five lucrative public contracts."

It is believed that two of the contracts were for land and house survey work and three concerned gas and gas maintenance.

Cllr Jackson said: "Concerns are not being addressed.

"Inverclyde Council has got councillors who are board members and directors of River Clyde Homes, so as directors they are entitled to go and get that information."

Provost Martin Brennan and councillors Graeme Brooks, John Crowther and Christopher Curley sit on the RCH board.

Cllr Jackson's public intervention comes after we revealed last week that a secret restructuring plan has been hatched by RCH bosses without informing their 5,500 tenants — and has led to a strike threat by staff.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the architect of the contentious internal restructuring, executive director of property services Gary Wilson, has suddenly left RCH to 'pursue new opportunities' following a long-term period of absence.

It is understood that, under Mr Wilson's plan, the housing association wants skilled trades people to transfer to a subsidiary called River Clyde Property Management, with new terms and conditions of employment.

A ballot for industrial action scheduled for yesterday morning was narrowly avoided after RCH chief executive Kevin Scarlett agreed to meet with the workforce and the Unite union.

An RCH spokeswoman said: "Our procurement processes are compliant with all relevant public procurement legislation and guidelines.

"Consistent with housing sector best practice, RCH accesses some services from key national and sectoral collaborative frameworks, enabling delivery of services to its customers in an efficient and cost effective manner.

"In relation to the specific contracts mentioned, these were awarded via 'Procurement for Housing Scotland' which is an external framework provider, and a dedicated procurement services provider to the Scottish housing sector."

A spokeswoman for McDermott Group said: "We have successfully tendered several contracts to supply RCH since 2016.

"All contracts were awarded through either open tender or national framework in line with procurement regulations."