No matter how many times we write about financial and contract irregularities, Folkestone & Hythe District Council never seem to learn.
As you may or many not know, the publication of the draft statement of accounts for 2021/22 and 2022/23 were late. Both missed the statutory deadline for publication.
It is a big job preparing the Council’s accounts, as the finance team have to look at everything in the granular realm to ensure what they state is correct.
The Shepway Vox Team have looked at the Council’s contract register, its purchase order data, and payment to suppliers data. Each of them when combined, show that once again in 2022/23, there has been financial and contractual irregularities. Neither you, or we should be surprised by this, as the former Chief Finance Officer – Charlotte Spendley – was in charge up until 17 March 2023.
According to the Council’s contract register only one contract has been awarded to Allen Lane Ltd.
According to the Council’s contract register there has not been any other contracts awarded to Allen Lane Ltd.
“Allen Lane is a London based specialist recruitment consultancy and market leader in the provision of finance, IT and procurement professionals.”
The Council have turned to Allen Lane to secure the interim Chief Financial Officer, more commonly known as the s151 officer. The individual awarded the interim position was Lydia Morrison. The appointment of an interim s151 officer was set out in report number P/22/05 and discussed at the Personnel Committee on the 2 Feb 2023
It was at this meeting Cllr Jackie Meade‘s quick back of the fag packet calculation, made it clear the costs of an interim s151 officer would be £100,000 or thereabouts.
Now according to the Council’s purchase order data for the period 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2023, two purchase orders for Allen Lane Ltd have been raised, the total is £97,500 (net). What is odd is the second purchase order for £17,500 does not appear on the Council’s contract register. It should appear there, as any contract above £5,000 must appear on the Council’s contract register. That said, and moving on, the chart below shows the number of purchase orders and the amount which is the net figure.
When one compares the Council’s purchase order data against its payment to suppliers data, the comparison shows shows that during 2022/23, Allen Lane have been paid £140,794 (net), so creating a financial irregularity of £43,294.
It is not a spectacular difference, nor is it material to the accounts. However, what it does show is during 2022/23 the financial internal controls in place were not robust.
Over the next few weeks we will once again further highlight more financial and contract irregularities during the financial year 2022/23. We will do this to highlight to the internal auditor, and the external auditor, and more importantly, you the council tax payer, the Council under the last Tory led administration, with Dr Susan Priest at the helm, and the former s151 Charlotte Spendley holding the financial wheel of the Council, ratepayers did not receive value for money on the contracts procured.
The inclusion of a person or company in this blogpost is not intended to suggest or imply that they have engaged in illegal or improper conduct.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness