Cllr Malcolm Dearden (pictured) was the former Cabinet member for Transport at Shepway District Council. He is now Cabinet member for Finance.
Cllr Dearden was first elected to Shepway District Council (SDC) in May 2007. He stood in the Hythe Central ward and won, receiving 1,147 votes gaining 53.8% of the vote on a turnout of 36.2%. He has been re-elected on two further occasions and has been a SDC Cllr for ten years.
During his time as SDC Cabinet member for Transport, all things parking, including parking machines were Cllr Dearden’s responsibility. The SDC officer ultimately responsible for parking machines, is Mr Andrew Thomas Blaszkowicz. He is head of Commercial & Technical Services and has been with SDC since May 2015.
Now on Cllr Dearden’s and Mr Blaszkowicz’s (pictured) watch, a theft of a parking machine happened. It was replaced and then the contents of the new machine were stolen by person/s unknown. According to report AuG/17/08 which went before the Audit & Governance Committee on the 13th Sept 2017, the events are as follows:
“On 11 th or 12 th April 2017 a parking machine was cut out and stolen from the High Knocke car park in Dymchurch. This resulted in a replacement new machine being ordered, installed and commissioned at this site. On 31 st May 2017 this newly
commissioned machine was emptied by unknown person/s and £642.20 was stolen.
The outcome of the investigation is that this theft occurred due to circumstances creating an opportunity through not controlling sets of keys, and not updating the Council’s contractor for collecting car park machine cash that the machine was up and running, and ensuring that they had the keys to empty the cash.Unknown persons seized the opportunity to access the machine and empty the cash as a one off theft, believing that it could not be traced back to them.
Lessons can be learnt from the series of events that lead up to the theft and recommendations have been made to ensure that security controls are improved such that the incident can not ever be repeated in the future.”
Cllr Michael Lyons (pictured) a member of the Audit & Governance committee was keen to know if this occurrence would be subject of an insurance claim, however it was made clear that the excess would probably outweigh any loss. So in short no insurance claim then.
Theft from SDC’s parking machines is not a new thing. Former council employee Matthew Donovan stole thousands of pounds from parking machines over a three year period, P Hooper of the Folkestone & Hythe Express makes it clear in his article “only two people [were] trusted with keys to the meters“. So on this occasion the question is:
How many people had access to the keys?
Were the Police informed and did they investigate?
How much did the replacement parking machine cost and was this subject to an insurance claim?
After all it is the public purse which has been stolen from. And as a large well known supermarket says, “every little helps“.
What assurances can Mr Andrew Thomas Blaszkowicz and the now Cabinet member for Transport – Cllr Ann Berry give the public of Shepway? After all lessons should have been learnt and implemented after the last debacle involving Mr Donovan, but it appears they have not.
The Shepwayvox Team