There are many residents who have expressed concern about Folkestone & Hythe District Council, spending the successful £20m Levelling Up Fund money they were awarded on the 18 Jan 2023.
And they may well have a point.
NSL Ltd were awarded the Parking Enforcement Contract in 2017. In the contract there was a provision to extend the contract for a further 36 months. This option to extend was taken up by the Council & NSL in 2021 and currently runs till 31 March 2024. The total sum for the contract is £2,838,578, according to the Council’s contract register.
However, according to the Council’s payment to suppliers data, between April 2017 and Nov 2022, they have paid NSL Ltd, £2,619,300 and there is still 14 months worth of payment data to be released before the end of the contract in March 2024. The Council’s own data shows the contract payments will exceed the awarded sum of the contract.
The average monthly payment to NSL between Apr 2017 and Nov 2022, is £38,519. Times this by 14 months and one get £539,266. Add this sum to the current amount paid and one arrives at a figure of £3,158,566. This means NSL will be paid a minimum of £319,988 more than the awarded contract sum.
Now of course, this is not the first contract which has been overpaid by our Council.
Premier Roofing were paid £2m more than the awarded contract sum, and Report AuG/22/21 to the Audit & Governance Committee (A&G) on 7 December 2022, stated the following:
One must not forget, our Council has the highest projected deficit of any Council in Kent over the next five years. Making sure contract payments to their suppliers tally with the contract sum awarded is more important than ever in these hard times.
As an aside, our district also has the highest number of households in fuel poverty, and the highest council tax of any Council in Kent, so that’s a hat trick of highests.
Back on track, it was made clear at A&G on 7 Dec 2022, training for all officers with regards to the Council’s Contract Standing Orders and Financial Procedure rules; would begin on the 12 Jan 2023. Of course, only eight days has elapsed since the training of all Council officers begun. As such this new training has not had time to bed itself in yet.
Meanwhile, contracts such as the NSL contract will be overpaid given the evidence available.
Given there are currently 425 contracts on the Council’s register, and that nine out of 14 contracts exceeded contract sums, this means in the sample taken, 64% of all contracts exceeded their contract sums. Extrapolating this figure would mean that 272 contracts have exceed their contract sum. To put this into financial terms, this would mean more than £9.4m has been paid in excess of their original contract sum in 2021/22 alone, according to financial audit specialists, we have spoken to.
Is this why we have the highest projected deficit of any council in Kent?
Is this why we’ve had the highest Council Tax of any Council in Kent for the last nineteen years?
Do the residents who have expressed concern about how the £20m leveling up fund will be spent, have a valid point?
We’ll leave you to think about whether Folkestone & Hythe District Council gives its residents value for money.
The inclusion of a NSL Limited and Premier Roofing in this blogpost is not intended to suggest or imply that they have engaged in illegal or improper conduct.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime