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Civil servants fear deal with Derek Cook

Motor Solutions, the Barnsley-based superstore operated by former DC Cook dealer group owner Derek Cook, has been linked with negotiations to supply the Civil Service Motoring Association's 350,000 members with new cars.

The CSMA, which is a non-profit making mutual organisation owned and run by its members, currently sources through its in-house Carshop scheme. Should a deal be clinched, civil servants could see their vehicles being supplied instead through Virigin Cars (UK) – the new company formed from the merger of Virgin Cars with Motor Solutions last month and which is under Cook's control.

CSMA staff are believed to be deeply concerned about the outsourcing plans. One, who asks not to be named, tells AM: “If Motor Solutions is successful in taking over Carshop's role it will be interested in one thing: profits.” Cook says talk of a takeover is “news to me”, but he concedes: “The CSMA is a perfect affinity partner for us – they're the sort of organisation we approach all the time. We did talk to them some time back but it came to nothing. I've now resurrected the idea and have set the wheels in motion to talk to them again.”

He says the CSMA's Carshop is little more than a dealer referral scheme. “It's not a very good system, although I understand it has a pretty good breakdown service. I think we can be of far greater benefit to the CSMA membership in terms of sourcing cars,” says Cook. One insider says Carshop administration staff have written to CSMA chief executive Steve Kenward asking him to comment on potential job losses should a change in supply go through. AM also contacted Kenward's office for comment but received no response at the time of going to press.

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