Cllr David Wimble (Ind) (pictured) is never a man far away from controversy or fake news. Just recently we informed you he’d made a complaint about Fred Miller of Parking Services. Wimble had parked on double yellow lines, near his sweetie shop in Hythe, and in a location where no loading or unloading can take place at any time. For parking in the location he received a parking ticket, which he believe was wrongly issued.
In a text to our public face, Cllr Wimble says, Kent Police have qualified he is allowed to load and unload in front of his shop. However, the law says something different, and Kent Police would not, we reasonable believe, state something which would be in contravention of the law. So, if he would kindly publish what Kent Police informed him, either via his Looker magazine, or send it to us to publish, we could see what if anything Kent Police did or did not say.
Moving along, Cllr Wimble is the owner and editor of The Looker Newspaper Ltd. The Looker Newspaper Ltd has made an application to the High Street Fund for the sum of £18,711.60. This is for the fit out of No 106 Hythe High Street which has stood empty for a good number of years.
106, The High Street Hythe has been empty for a good number of years and looks very dilapidated, as the image below shows. It’s this building we understand that Wimble as the owner of The Looker, wishes to internally renovate and open up as his new sweet shop. It is owned, according to the Land Registry documents by Demelza House Trading Limited, who are ultimately owned by Demelza House Children’s Hospice.
Applications for the High Street Fund are received and assessed in the first instance by the Economic Development Team, with decisions on individual applications made by decision panels comprising the Leader of the Council, Councillor David Monk, the Lead, Cabinet Member for the District Economy, Councillor David Wimble and a Councillor from the relevant high street ward.
So it would appear, that Cllr Wimble could sit in on an application which he was making. Did he recuse himself, or was he given a dispensation, by the monitoring officer Amandeep Khroud? Also we must not forget that Cllr Wimble, as the owner of The Looker magazine, recently received £10,000 in covid payments.
Report Number C/22/15 makes it clear Cllr Wimble declared his business interest to officers and the panel were made aware of this. That said, does the fact Cllr Wimble has applied as the owner of The Looker magazine, damage public confidence in the conduct of the council’s business, as he is a sitting Cllr and Cabinet Member, applying for money from the High Street Fund?
Also does Cllr Wimble as the owner of The Looker magazine, have permission from the owners of the building, to undertake the refurbishment? This is a requirement within the High Street Fund Application Form
Three Cllrs believe that further questions need to be asked, of The Looker magazine’s application, and given there have been a good number of irregularities within the council lately, Cllr Wimble should welcome their intervention. If after scrutiny of the decision, it’s deemed it was correct to grant the award, then public confidence in the decision, would one might think be assured.
The three Cllrs who’ve called in the decision to award £18,711, to The Looker, are: Cllr Rebecca Shoob (Green), Cllr Connor McConville (Lab) and Cllr Gary Fuller (Lib Dems) There reasons for the call-in are as follows:
1. It specifies inadequate evidence on which to base the decision – There was no formal disclosure of Cllr David Wimble’s interest in the information supplied on which the panel was asked to base their decision. – When queried with officers, documentary evidence of applicant’s business funds appear to be absent.
2. It specifies insufficient consideration of the advice of the statutory officers – The application was given a relatively low score by officers (13/25). Considering this was a grant application for a relatively large sum of money (£18,711.60) compared to most other awarded grants, the decision by the leader appears to have been given insufficient consideration of the advice of officers and exceptional circumstances do not appear to be evident.
3. Officers and members, the councillors calling in the matter, wish to hear from Cllr Monk and Ewan Green, Director of Place
4. Matters that the councillors, who called in the decision, wish to ask questions on – Procedural matters including who sits on the panel, who attended the panel, when was the panel arranged, when did it take place and who was there. – Procedural matters relating to how declarations of interest are made on the high street applications. Was the information supplied sufficient for panel members to make both a practical and ethical decision? – What scores have been given in the past to high street fund applications? What amounts are usually awarded? What constitute exceptional circumstances for more than 50% of match funding to be awarded? – What other possible conflicts of interest, for instance political interest, arise in this particular instance? Were these considered and declared? Should they be? “
According to the last set of accounts for The Looker Newspaper Ltd (Oct 2020), available on Companies House, show the company has total net assets of £1,387. Let’s not forget that Marsh Media Ltd, the previous owners of The Looker magazine, had debts of £103,902 in Oct 2019, according to Companies House.
We are not saying Cllr Wimble, as owner of The Looker magazine, is not entitled to the monies applied for. What we are saying given his ability to confabulate, and spread fake news, it’s only wise and proper Cllrs and the public have full confidence in how the council awards the High Street Grants, and that they are mantaining a high standard of probity. After all this is public money.
The Shepway Vox Team
Being Voxatious is NOT a Crime