On Nov 11, when the Council took down the 2019/20, Procurement Card Transaction Data (read credit card data), from their website with no explanation, it naturally created the suspicion that the data was either incorrect, incomplete, or both.
It would have been a wise and prudent to give residents reasons for its removal, so as to allay any suspicion of wrongdoing.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s constitution is its legal framework. Part 8 of the Constitution govern – Officers Rules and Procedures including Delegation to Officers
At page 8/27 – 13.2 Conduct of Public Service, it states:
Clearly, the duty of staff goes further than simply avoiding crime. As the Local Conditions of Service state:
“The public is entitled to demand of a Local Government Officer conduct of the highest standard, and public confidence in their integrity would be shaken were the least suspicion, however ill-founded, to arise that they could be in any way influenced by improper motives”.
Now given that Officers of the Council have claimed via the procurement card data; meals; alcohol, accommodation, flights and rail travel for example; while away from the office, we do not know how much they are allowed to claim for travel (taxi’s, trains…) and subsistence (food & drink)
We do know what Cllrs are allowed to claim as that is set out in Part 9 of the Council’s Constitution at page Part 9/82 and Part 9/83. But how can we dispel “the least suspicion, however ill-founded” that officers are not claiming more than what they are entitled to, when the amounts they can legitimately claim are not published.
We are not claiming officers have claimed more than what is allowed in the course of their duties. But it is impossible to dispel suspicion, when the amounts they are allowed to claim are not published. So for the sake of transparency and accountability we ask – not accuse – why the Council does not publish this data?
It is clear from the data below that the Council have published three different formats of dates
1 – 25/07/2019
2 – 02/13/2020
3 – 09-Mar-21
On many occasions they have failed to provide a Transaction Description. Where they have it reads Supplier – Wh Smith; Transaction Description – Envelope, Supplier – Subway; Transaction Description – Food for Otterpool site meeting, as two simple examples. Then there is the Net amounts – 30..00 or 67..21, or 100…67. From this it’s clear the data has been manipulated. That much cannot be denied. Also the Council’s procurement card data is not in compliance with the requirements of the Transparency Code 2015 (see Para 30)
As such how can residents confidence and suspicion not be shaken given the data speaks for itself.
Hence why we call on any courageous Cllr – if one exists – to respectfully request the Council publish its officer’s rates, as they do for Cllrs. By doing so would dispel any suspicion of wrongdoing, and would create more transparency which can never be a bad thing. If they fail to publish the information then the residents of the district may well continue to believe something suspicious is happening. The Council have a choice.
As we said before and as we say again, the data presented by them is dirty data, and manipulated data. This should make us all cautious and wary of what the council are trying to tell us with their data.
Their data and their manipulation of it can only represent a world they wish you to see, not the world as is. We should all be suspicious of their motives for representing their world, via their dangerous data.
But as always we'll leave you to decide that.
The Shepway Vox Team
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