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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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16 April (Part 3) - Too generous by far

Spreadsheet of expenditure over £500
I am told I was far too generous in putting forward the theory that Bexley cabinet members didn’t claim for subsistence when they went off on a pre-Christmas jolly to the Flackley Ash Hotel in Rye. I didn’t think I was all that generous as it would mean that councillors consider it normally OK to have everything paid for them by you and me and then claim ninety pounds a night on top. But it was the only theory I could come up with which fitted the available facts that an invoice came in for £2,585, the council paid it (see above) and the Payments Manager said that it really cost £900 less than that.

Clearly something doesn’t add up but mine was a relatively simple explanation. It seems it may have been wrong.While researching another matter I came across this. It comes from the papers which led to former council leader Ian Clement’s fall from grace and ultimate conviction.

Extract from letter which led to the investigation into alleged fraud by former leader Ian ClementIt clearly states that councillors can’t claim subsistence when everything has already been paid by the council. So maybe the cabinet’s claim to have saved tax payers’ money by paying for themselves (which I interpreted as not claiming subsistence) is a bigger deception than I suspected. Or it could be that the Payments Manager’s email is not all that it seems, or that the payments listed on the council website are not true either. Actually that is not entirely unthinkable. A friendly accountant has sent me an explanation as to why they are unreliable at least. When I have got my head around the jargon I may be able to share the information here.

I reproduce below the Payments Manager’s email to help convince readers further that the Bonkers Team does not go around making things up.

The payment was for an annual two-day strategy session attended by the Council’s Cabinet, Management Board and two senior managers. The meeting took place from Friday lunchtime, involved working on Friday evening and on Saturday morning until lunchtime.
The cost covered all conference facilities, food and accommodation.
Cabinet members decided in advance of the meeting that they would meet the full cost of their food and accommodation, which reduced the actual cost to the Council to £1,685.92 for the 19 people who attended.
No overtime or additional hours payments were made to any of the managers who took part.
Miss Bel Temel
Payments Manager

It wasn’t really a two day session. It ran from mid-day Friday until mid-day Saturday. It probably needs an FOI request or two to sort this one out properly.


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