It’s a first, and not one Folkestone & Hythe District Council should be proud of at all.
For the first time in the history of our Council, they have failed to publish their draft accounts, or open them up to public inspection by the deadline; which was August 1. The draft accounts and the public’s right to inspect them have been delayed. How long for is anyone’s guess.
Are the council giving themselves time to cook the books?
The draft accounts had to be approved by 31 July 2022, and published no later than August 1, but Folkestone & Hythe have failed to do this.
Yesterday in a strange turn of events, the council chose to shot themselves in the foot, for at 16:58, on 1 August 2022, they published the following on their website.
The notice they put up as per the image captured on their website can be downloaded immediately below
Yes they published the inspection rights for any resident of the district or journalist for 2019/20, not 2021/22, as it should have been.
Five minutes later after realizing their c*ck up, Folkestone & Hythe District Council put up a notice stating the 2021/22 draft accounts publication, and inspection rights will be delayed.
The statement says: the draft statement of accounts and the public inspection rights have been delayed while work continues to complete the draft accounts for 2021/22. A further notification will be published as soon as the draft accounts are available for inspection.
The accounts and the auditing of them are the section 151 officer’s responsibility – they are the responsible person for the council accounts and finances. That person is Charlotte Spendley (pictured).
She is the person responsible for the failure to meet the deadline. We know in 2020/21, her salary with fees and allowances was £105,936 giving her a take home salary of £68,893, or £5,741 in her pocket a month.
One must say though the council are currently investigating serious financial and contractual irregularities, which is more likely than not why the deadline was missed, and why the draft accounts and resident inspections rights have been delayed.
We know of no other council in Kent who has missed this deadline.
On another note, but entirely related, we hired a data matching company to look at all officers who are employed by Folkestone & Hythe District Council, all 443 of them. Back in early July, they estimated £7.2m of likely council procurement fraud over four years.
Now, after a month of tireless work, the data matching company came back to us and they have matched 24% of council officers to amber or red flags which would warrant more investigation and due diligence on these council officers. We cannot name the staff for they have data protection rights, but we can say that of the 24%, or 107 council officers where flags were raised, 9% or 40 council officers raised significant red flags which would seriously warrant further investigation.
The reasons for red flags; which the data matching company said would warrant further investigation, were due to council officers with –
Significant personal debt and credit problems
Unusually close relationship with contractors
Previous Breaches of Duty while working elsewhere
Divorce/ family problems/school fees
A red flag is a fact, event, or set of circumstances, or other information that may indicate a potential legal compliance concern for illegal or unethical conduct. At this time we are saying this: – the 9% who red flagged warrant further investigation, so as to rule out any possibility of wrongdoing by them. Of course, they like the four who’ve been suspended so far, are innocent until proven guilty.
As for the draft accounts not coming out on time and the public unable to inspect the council’s accounts, that’s a red flag, in and of itself.
Are the books being cooked? As always, we’ll leave you to decide that.
The Shepway Vox Team
Being Voxatious is NOT a Crime