An ongoing investigation into two Cllrs expenses claims is afoot.
SDC Cllr Peter Simmons [New Romney] Below
and Former SDC Councillor Russell Tillson [Dymchurch] Below
are being investigated by Shepway District Council and the Auditors Grant Thornton.
Comment has been sought from both, as yet Cllr Simmons has elected not to say anything.
Former Cllr Tillson has said “I have no idea what you are talking about and have never heard of Shepway Vox. All I do know is that is that I will have no hesitation in instructing my solicitor should any defamatory allegations be made against me.”
From the information gleaned by my trusty elves, it is understood that both Cllrs claimed expenses when they should not have done.
Cllr Peter Simmons has been suspended from the SDC Council Chamber, while the investigation is ongoing. Cllr Simmons has, so SDC’s notice board states, resigned as a Town Cllr in New Romney and a by election may be held, or as is more likely, somebody will be co-opted onto the New Romney Town Council.
As the investigations into the Cllrs expenses claim is ongoing we must await its outcome; which Shepwayvox understands from a reliable elf, will conclude in about a month’s time, after the Leader [Cllr Monk]
returns from his 3 week long cruise.
What puzzles ShepwayVox is how this came to happen in the first place.
Why did it take a member of the public to bring this to the SDC’s attention?
How did SDC Officers miss these anomalies? Willful Blindness?
How many more may they have missed?
Who was responsible for the auditing and checking of Cllrs Expenses?
When did it begin as these expenses claims are for the year 14/15?
Was it happening prior to this?
What action if any, will SDC take with regards to the officer/s who were responsible for the overseeing of the expenses?
How much has the public purse, possibly lost?
Will the Cllrs be reported to the Police, or just allowed to pay the monies back if the investigation concludes that they have made false expenses claims?
If they are not reported to the Police, and they are given a slap on the wrist, this will give a green light possibly to Cllrs to fiddle their expenses. Shepwayvox believes examples should be made of these Cllrs so that others do not follow in their footsteps.
ShepwayVox is appalled that SDC has even allowed such anomalies to occur when they declare that their Accounts are in order. Where else might there be a lack of oversight by SDC officers and the Chief Finance Officer?
We must await the outcome of the investigation to get answers to these and many other questions.
UPDATE: Shepwayvox now understands that a number of complaints have been lodged with Kent Police. Under the Fraud Act 2006 s1 ss2-4, Fraud by abuse of Position is a criminal offence. It will now be up to the Police and CPS to decide if any criminal action will be brought against the Cllr Simmons and Former Cllr Tillson.
If you have any questions about this matter, you are well within your rights to write to this man, as the buck does stop with him at SDC.
Mr Alistair Stewart
CEO, Shepway District Council
Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue,
Folkestone, Kent CT20 2QY
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or email Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley