Folkestone & Hythe District Council , like all other councils must open their annual accounts to allow the public to inspect them. Unfortunately, our Council are not accepting requests to inspect their accounts.
The link one must use, to request what one wishes to inspect in the accounts, is broken. This has been the case for the last sixty hours, or two and half days. The matter has now been rectified, that withstanding, two acts of Parliament and two sets of Regulations set out residents rights to inspect the accounts.
At the time of writing, the council were in breach of two acts of Parliament and two sets of Regulations.
Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014
The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015
Local Audit (Public Access to Documents) Act 2017
The Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021
Under the LAAA 2014 Act s26 states:
(1) At each audit of accounts under this Act, other than an audit of accounts of a health service body, any persons interested may:
(a) inspect the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records, and
(b) make copies of all or any part of those records or documents.
Our Council’s accounts opened for inspection on the 28 June 2021 and will close to inspection on the 6 August 2021. After one week only, our Council – Folkestone & Hythe District Council – have closed down the official access route for the public to inspect the accounts for the last two and half days.
Any resident can ask to inspect the books, ask for deeds of Westenhanger Castle, Folkestone Racecourse, ask for contracts such as the Veolia Waste Contract or the BAM Construction for Princes Parade, bills, vouchers, receipts for Council Tax; and other documents relating to those records and make copies of all or any part of those records or documents, as stipulated in Section 25 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
Each year the council release Notice of Public Inspection Rights, as they must under Regulation 15(2)(b) of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, informing you, the residents, the accounts are open to inspect, how long they’ll be open, your rights and how to make an objection to the accounts; and how to make an inspection request. Oh! And the fact you can make a request in writing, via snail mail, even though the office is closed due to Covid.
With our Council you make your request Online at:
On the 6 Jul 2021 at 19:58:25 UTC the link was showing a 404 Page Not Found error. UTC time is one hour behind UK time
On the 7 Jul 2021 at 07:24:34 UTC the link was showing a 404 Page Not Found error
On the 7 Jul 2021 09:29:02 UTC the link was showing a 404 Page Not Found error. (Remember UTC is one hour behind UK time.)
The typical trigger for an error 404 message is when website content has been removed or moved to another URL. This has to be done by human intervention, which would suggest the Council has deliberately shut down the page, for two and half days, preventing any resident or journalist from making a request to inspect the accounts.
What’s in the council’s accounts they might not want inspecting?
Is the Chief Exec Dr Susan Priest looking for another job because she is causing reputationable damage to the Council?
This is not the first time a 404 – Page not found error has happened.
Many of those who supported the local petition to change the Council from being a Cabinet lead Council, to a Committee led Council experienced a 404 – page not found message, when wanting to sign the petition. They were all told the website was fine. (Fancy that!)
The Council’s website is crap. And the elected member responsible for it, the Cllr giving the middle digit to two Acts of Parliament and two sets or regulations, is Cllr Ray Field.
Ray is the Cabinet Member responsible for Digital Transformation – Information technology, information access and security, RIPA and Customer service.
Ray received an allowance of £16,833 in 2020/21.
It’s Ray who’s letting the team down. Ray is the weakest link. And it’s Ray department which lead to the customer services failure over the ongoing Veolia fiasco.
Yes that’s the same Ray who betrayed Princes Parade to join Monk’s Cabinet. And it’s the same Ray who no longer resides in the district.
Also responsible, is the Assistant Director of Governance, Law & Regulatory Services, (the Council’s head solicitor & monitoring officer) Amandeep Khroud, whose total remuneration, including pension contributions was £111, 255, in 2020/21. She is the person responsible for the governance of the inspection of the accounts; and as such she too is giving the middle digit to two acts of parliament and two sets of regulations
Then there is Charllote Spendley the s151 officer, the officer responsible for the Council’s finances. Her total remuneration, including pension contributions in 2020/21 was £123,760. She is also responsible for the right to inspect the Council’s accounts.
Then of course there is the Chief Exec and Head of Paid Service, Dr Susan Julia Priest. Her total remuneration, including pension contributions in 2020/21 was £160,048. She is responsible for managing all the people responsible, to ensure they all do their jobs. A growing body of evidence is emerging which might suggest she “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”
That aside, inspection of the Council’s accounts is a right. Freedom of information is a right. To have your bins collected is a right. But of course, our Council and it’s senior management appear to believe the rights given to us, in two Acts of Parliament and two sets of Regulations, don’t apply in our district.
The Council have a budget for their webpage. A proprotionate amount of the budget should be set aside to crawl their webpage links hourly, checking for broken links, flagging them; and fixing them.
To be fair, the Public Inspection Notice does say you can write to the Council as well. Not forgetting the Civic Centre is currently closed due to Covid.
A two and half day IT glitch or not, it all adds to the growing body of evidence in the public domain, that Cllr Ray Field, Amandeep Khroud, Charlotte Spendley and the Chief Exec, Dr Susan Julia Priest, can’t manage a website, can’t manage a waste contract and can’t manage those responsible for these issues to ensure they are done.
As we’ve said before, it’s time for them to go.
PS – Update: the Broken Link was fixed within 90 minutes after the issue was raised with the Council by residents and others.
On the 8th of July one day after this blog was posted the Council revealed in a tweet the issue was much larger than just a single broken link on their website.
As we said their website is crap, because within hours of admitting their was a wider issue, some of the links that stated were fixed, were broken again.
Are the council using digital warfare to present democracy from working in our district? We’ll leave you to ponder that.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime.