Incompetence: Power without accountablity

Purchase Orders (POs) are either the prevention of all evil, or the creation of all evil in local government, and elsewhere.

At Folkestone & Hythe District Council, they publish their POs, every month and have done so since April 2016, even though the Transparency Code 2014 and the Transparency Code 2015, make it clear they should have been published as early as Oct 2014.

The Transparency Code requires publication of purchase orders (£5,000 and above), so local people are able to see the details of all legally enforceable agreements entered into by any local authority.  Local authorities can publish details of contracts, and hence purchase orders, as part of other datasets as long as all of the relevant information about the contracts is published in a clear, accessible and understandable way for local people.

However, when one looks at the POs for RingGo Ltd, there is not a single purchase order for them in the Council published purchase order data, between Apr 2016 and Dec 2022.

Between Oct 2016 to Dec 2022, the Council have had two contracts with RingGo Ltd. Both contracts have a combined value of £538,617.

The first contract with RingGo Ltd was awarded on on 01/10/2016. It started on the same date and ended on 30/09/22, and  the value of the contract was for £80,700.

The second contract with RingGo Ltd was awarded on on 15/07/22. It started on the 01/10/2022, and will end on the 30/09/2027. The value of the contract is £457,916.

According to the Council’s payment to suppliers data for the period 01/10/2016, to the 31 Dec 2022, the data shows RingGo Ltd have been paid the following:

There are NO payments in the Council’s published payment to suppliers data for the first contract. This means £80,700 is missing from the payment to suppliers data.  There are no published POs for either the first or second contract. Both these issues raise the plausible suspicion of wrongdoing.

Both these issues violate the Council’s constitution; which is its legal framework, and must be adhered to by ALL officers. It violates the Council’s Contract Standing Orders, and it violates the Council’s procurement rules. So every rule that can be broken has been broken, and is still being broken as their is no payment data for the first contract, and there are no POs for the first and second contract.

We can see the absence of POs for RingGo Ltd in the data, but nobody at the Council can. They are paid to do this job, we are not. And remember, they make the stories, we just write about them. Where is the leadership, and where is the accountability?

What they the officers must remember, is the lack of this data in their published data raises the plausible suspicion of wrongdoing. It also generates reputational damage to our Council. But time and again they simply don’t care, so the publicly available evidence shows.

More incompetence and nobody held responsible or accountable.

Anyway, moving on, lets take an example: If you order a million pencils at a penny each, that £10,000. To do this you need a PO. This PO needs signing of by an authorised person, and then the PO is sent. The PO will include the Council terms and conditions on it. If a PO is not raised  then officers are ordering goods without the proper authority , as the PO has not been approved. Also, one must remember if you raise a PO without approval, how can you know there is sufficient budget to pay the PO? You can’t. Hence why there are strict rules and procedures in local authorities; which must be followed.

However, with regards to RingGo Ltd this is not being done according to the  publicly available evidence.

In the Council’s Contract Standing Orders it states:

There should be a detailed audit trail of all purchases.

The Contract Standing Orders apply to all contracts regardless of value including all purchase orders, concessions and contractual arrangements entered into by or on behalf of the Council

In the Council’s Procurement guide it states the following:

You must use this guide when making purchases. With all the information provided the term contract can apply to a multi-million pound contract or a much smaller value purchase order.

Procurement can involve complex technical provisions and legal rules. Breach of those technical provisions, the legal rules, the CSOs or this guide can have serious consequences for the Council and for you. If you are in doubt then you must seek assistance.

All purchases must be recorded. This is normally recorded in the Council’s financial system by purchase orders and invoices.

It is important to set out as much relevant information as possible when raising a purchase order. A purchase order is a formal agreement with a supplier and needs to give a clear indication of what is being purchased.

If the Council does not make it clear that its own terms and conditions, purchase orders or contracts apply, then the contractor’s terms and conditions may apply to the purchase. This may not be in the Council’s best interests.

When a purchase order is created in e-financials a web address for the standard terms and conditions is printed on the bottom of the order. If the order was not automatically sent by email and you have to print the order and send it to send to the supplier by post, you must also print out the terms and conditions and send these with the purchase order.

Standard terms and conditions are used for purchase orders.

There are no excuses for any officer who fail to follow the rules and procedures. Also what this demonstrates is Amandeep Khroud (pictured) the Assistant Director of Governance, Law and Regulatory Services at Folkestone & Hythe District Council, is responsible for monitoring this. It’s clear, little to no monitoring is being done. She is paid very well. In 2021/22, her salary, including fees and allowances was £101,617.

All we can say is don’t expect any form of leadership to hold those accountable for the failings around RingGo Ltd.

The inclusion of RingGo Ltd 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





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1 Comment on Incompetence: Power without accountablity

  1. And they will continue to be incompetent because they are accountable to no one .


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