Charlotte Spendley the Chief Finance Officer (s151 Officer) at Folkestone & Hythe District Council is leaving the building sometime in the near future.
Did she jump, or was she pushed, is not known.
The Chief Finance Officer officer is a statutory officer in all Councils and is the person responsible for the money. They are not simply a servant of the Council but hold a fiduciary responsibility to local tax payers and as such owes a duty of care to the public in managing Council resources on their behalf.
Prior to her job at Folkestone & Hythe District Council; which began in Oct 2018, she had been the Head of Finance at East Kent Housing since 2011.
It is not known why Charlotte is leaving, or where she is going to. All we do know is that during her time as the CFO, there have been a good number of financial and contract irregularities; which has led to contractors being paid much more than the contract value. We cannot say if these irregularities, highlighted by The Shepway Vox Team, have played any part in her departure.
One might remember that we announced her deputy’s departure from the Council in Nov 2022.
Charlotte’s departure was announced earlier this week, days before Council Officers began training on Contract Standing Orders (12 Jan 2023). Now the irony of this according to a bakers dozen of Council sources is staff are already finding work arounds of the training they are receiving; which rather makes a mockery of officers looking after the public pound.
That aside, we note that the Payment to Suppliers data; which is usually published every month has stopped at September 2022. By now we should have up to November’s data available. We also note that more than six months on the Council have only published three and half years worth of data for their Procurement Card data (read credit card data).
Rather than becoming more transparent, the Council is reverting to old habits and withholding data; data which must be published in accordance with the Transparency Code 2015
Also, we note during her time as Chief Finance Officer only one set of accounts has been completed, that being 2018/19. The accounts for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 have yet to be completed.
The accounts for 2021/22, have yet to be published. This should have happened by 1 Aug 2022, but that date came and went without any accounts being published. The next important date was 30 Nov 2022, by which time the Council was required to publish their audited accounts. That date too came and went, and the requirement was not met. Nor has the public been allowed to use their public inspection rights under s26 of the Local Audit & Accountability Act 2014.
We shouldn’t forget on her watch the Covid Grant data; which should never have been released, was released in contravention of the CIPFA Code of Practice and published by The Shepway Vox Team.
Let’s hope before Charlotte leaves the building, all the data which should be published, is published. Failure to do so would not be good for her as the person with a duty of care to the public pound, or her reputation as a Chief Financial Officer.
Wherever Charlotte moves onto, we wish her all the best in her next job.
The Shepway Vox Team
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