Is it incompetence, fraud, stupidity or something else?
How can contracts begin before they are even awarded?
The answer of course is they can’t, as this would be a breach of governance, compliance and contract standing orders. But they are happening with increasing regularity at Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
Below are a further three examples of contract irregularities, which we first wrote about in June 2021. There are plenty more we could highlight. It is not just financial irregularities which abound within our Council and make them look incompetent, stupid, or engaged in potential fraud.
In mid June 2021, we wrote about how Folkestone & Hythe District Council, led by Dr Susan Priest (pictured) as Head of Paid Service and Chief Executive, had failed to ensure that various departments under her ultimate control were not doing their jobs properly and beginning contracts before they were actually awarded.
The Assistant Director Responsible for governance and compliance is Amandeep Khroud (pictured). And the person responsible for Regulatory Services & Corporate Contracts, Mr Andrew Rush (pictured). Given £4m of financial irregularities have happened on their watch and we’ve highlighted just six non compliant contract in less than a year. Is it time all three fell on their sword? We personally think so.
On the 26 Jan 2022, the Council awarded a contract to Buckles Solicitors to provide legal support for the Princes Parade public enquiry relating to the “stopping up order” for the redirection of the existing road away from the seafront to run closer to the canal.
There are some odd things about this contract, as it was awarded as we said on 26 Jan 2022, but started on 2 Sept 2021, and the estimated value was £12,250. However, the Council’s payment data shows Buckles Solicitors were paid £56,475.95. This is a 361% increase on the cost of the contract. Was it value for money?
We wish though we could say it ended there, but it doesn’t.
On the April 1 2022, Adept Power Solutions Ltd were awarded a contract to the estimated value of £3,065, spread across three years. However, the contract started before the contract was awarded. It began on the 2 Sept 2021.
To date Adept Power Solutions have been paid £3,632.04, according to the Council’s payment to supplier data.
Then there is CDW Ltd, who were awarded a contract on the 2 Oct 2023, yes you read that correctly, 2 Oct 2023, with an estimated value of £312,984. The contract begun on the 1 Oct 2021, and is for 36 months.
To date, according to the Council’s payments to supplier data they have been paid £132,342.
When our Chief Exec, Dr Susan Priest, Amandeep Khroud responsible for governance and compliance, and Andrew Rush head of contracts, cannot fulfill their responsibilities, for which they are paid in excess of £300,000, it is time we honestly believe all three should be shown the door, as one has to seriously wonder about their competencies and leadership.
Since Dr Priest has been at the helm, financial irregularities of more than £4m have been exposed by the Shepway Vox Team.
One has to seriously consider if these failings of leadership are what led here to not getting the job at Kent County Council
It is time those on the Audit & Governance Committee
Councillor Mrs Ann Berry (Chairman)
Councillor Philip Martin (Vice-Chair)
to take action and prevent further compliance breaches from occurring, because if they don’t even more people will potentially get away with committing potential fraud, compliance and governance issues without any comeback whatsoever.
That said we don’t have much faith in this committee either, as they failed to prevent non-compliance and financial irregularities back in May 2021.
The Shepway Vox Team
Being Voxatious is NOT a Crime