Who cares, who really cares?
It is not as if we can say our Cllrs care. They are all too often reactive to situations, not proactive.
Under the old regime we wrote frequently about contracts starting before they were awarded. Now six months into a new administration led by Cllr Jim Martin (Green), the same issues persist.
According to the Council’s constitution (its legal framework) contracts cannot be started before they are awarded. But hey this is Folkestone & Hythe District Council and anything is possible.
Now six months after the local electorate voted out the Tories and placed a Green led council in charge, contracts are still beginning before they are awarded. It doesn’t matter the colour of the administration, as it is the officers who are responsible for this stuff, not Cllrs.
Gerald Eve LLP have according to the contract register won three contracts with our Council.
As one can see, the top contract was awarded on the 10/07/2023, but it started 15 days earlier on the 22/06/2023. The contract value was £22,650.
Motis Estates Ltd were awarded a contract on the 13/10/2023, but it started four days earlier on the 09/10/2023. The contract value was for £7,500
Then there is the contract which was awarded three years and eight months after it had started.
ESRI (UK) Limited were awarded the contract on the 02/11/2023, but it started 3 years and eight months earlier on the 01/04/2020. The contract will run until 31/03/2024 and is valued at £79,779.16.
As you might suspect there are more contracts which started before they were awarded, 15 more to be precise. All eighteen contract including the three above have an estimated contract value of £915,572 and an awarded contract value of £1,120,629; which is an 18% difference.
Now according to the Council’s published payment to suppliers data, there are no payments for the Legrand Electric Ltd contract. The first payment received by Legrand according to the Council’s payment data is on the 12/14/2021 and the amount is for £11,448.82.
There are many other anomalies with the payment data not reconciling with the awarded contract value as well. But as history has shown, this is par for the course at Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
We have a significant deficit, and the Council’s data shows us they overpaid substantially on many contracts, even when there was no valid contract or the contract had ended, suppliers continued to get paid. One has to ask oneself, is this in part why the Council have such a large deficit? We think we know the answer to that, but that is for you to ponder on. You can make your own decision given all the financial and contract irregularities we have highlighted, time and again.
Once again what these eighteen contracts show us, is that process and procedure is NOT being followed. They also show lax internal controls and lax financial controls as well. Dr Priest informed us all very publicly back at the Audit & Goverance Committee on 7 December 2022, issues around contracts and procurement would end. However, it is clear they persist From the evidence above there is little she, or the new leader of the Council Cllr Jim Martin (Green) (pictured), can do to stop it.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness