A damning report released today, by Folkestone & Hythe District Council, show that procurement management and contract standing orders (CSO) have been significantly breached, for a substantial amount of time, by council officers.
In Report Number AuG/22/21 it states:
Around £1,452,646 was spent in 2021/22 on suppliers without a CSO compliant contract, of which £650,000 was spent using expired contracts.
From a sample of 20 suppliers, in only 12 instances were officers found to have complied with CSO’s and obtained at least three written quotes/tenders following advertisement by public notice.
From a sample of 20 suppliers tested with expenditure above £10,000, a contract was in place for only 11 suppliers.
From 14 suppliers with a current or expired contract, expenditure on only 5 contracts was found to be in line with contract sums, in all other cases expenditure exceeded contract sums.
In May of this year we wrote about Premier Roofing making it clear the value of the contract was £484,056. However, payments made to Premier Roofing & Construction Limited at 31 March 2022, was £2,431,897. The report says the contractor had been paid “significantly beyond the agreed contractual sum.” The sum paid was five times the value of the contract. The officer responsible for this contract was Anthony Wallner, who has since gone on to leave the building.
The Housing planned maintenance contract management audit could place No Assurance on the system of internal controls in operation around both the procurement and management of contracts in operation. In short there were fundamental gaps, weaknesses and non-compliance identified.
East Kent Audit Partnership – independent of the Council – found in their audits
“some teams were failing to follow due process when procuring goods and services.”
“Compliance [with CSO and FPR] was varied across the Council.”
“they did identify poor contract management and related parties practice which needs to be addressed.”
“it is recommended that all staff responsible for procuring are retrained and reminded of a number of key matters related to these activities.”
The report says much much more and demonstrates that fish rot from the head down.
All of what The Shepway Vox Team has written about with regards to the financial procedures and contracts and contract standing orders not being complied with, is laid bare in this report, across sixteen pages.
One has to remember the Audits have only taken samples, meaning they have NOT looked at every contract, or all the financial procedures. If they were to look much wider, the sum of £1,452,646 would be much, much greater, given the Council currently have 424 contracts on its contract register, with an estimated value of £247 million.
One must not forget the Draft Statement of Accounts for 2021/22 have not been published. Nor has the public as yet been allowed to inspect the Council’s accounts. By the close of play today (30 Nov 2022) an audited set of accounts needs to be published, however the council will not meet this requirement. Where the Council is unable to publish audited accounts by 30 November, it must instead publish a notice explaining why the audited accounts have not been published. We look forward to this notice as required by law.
Furthermore there is still no audited statement of accounts for 2020/21, nor has the audit completion certificate been issued for 2019/20.
The council has not complied with its requirements under the Transparency Code 2015 to publish its procurement card data. There is still six years and six months data to be published.
The officers responsible for the report and named in it are Dr Susan Priest – Chief Executive & Head of the Paid Service, Charlotte Spendley – Director of Corporate Services and Section 151 Officer and Amandeep Khroud, Assistant Director of Governance & Law and Monitoring Officer. The elected member responsible for the Governance portfolio is Cllr David Monk.
It’s clear the residents of the Folkestone & Hythe District are not getting Best Value, as monies is being spent when it should not be, as is evidenced in Report Number AuG/22/21.
Is it any wonder then why a Petition has been submitted to full council tonight regarding Princes Parade which states:
“We, the undersigned, request that the development at Princes Parade is abandoned. It is financially reckless to continue”.
Given the evidence in Report Number AuG/22/21 the petitioners are quite right to ask for the project to be stopped with immediate effect.
We will be writing more about this report and other matters related to it in the near future. In the meantime, it’s for you to decide if our council and the management of contracts is fit for purpose.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime