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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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18 April (Part 1) - Funny money

The list of things costing more than £500 which Bexley council has to publish because Mr. Pickles says so is a rich source of amusement, amazement and mystery. It shows we are still bunging the Thames Innovation Centre eighteen thousand most months to do things that could be done within the Civic Centre but at least this way the TIC may show a profit. The company that has the leisure centre contract (Boxwood Leisure Ltd.) runs off with best part of a quarter of a million every month and for some unknown reason a Maidstone firm of solicitors (Brachers) got “a grant” of £802,667. Nice for them.

Devon County Council was paid £101k. and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea received more than half a million.

Nearer to home Bromley council was paid £8,086 for gritting our roads. Looks like Craske’s planning wasn’t up to the job again. Why Price Waterhouse Coopers had to give ninety thousand pounds’ worth of advice to Bexley council is anyone’s guess. Maybe it was them that recommended saving £68k. by not paying for terrorist insurance in future.

An accountant friend doesn’t think much of Bexley’s £500 listing, he says it barely complies with government regulations. The Payments Manager has admitted that Bexley’s data complies only with the mandatory elements of the legislation and any extras that might provide a complete paper trail are omitted.

There is no Invoice number, just a near random number meaningless to anyone outside the council and maybe to them too. Tracking refunds against invoices is impossible. The Payments Manager, in a weak moment perhaps, promised to have the website amended to better explain refunds but nearly two months have passed since then and nothing has changed.

About Boxwood leisure the council had this to say…

“In Spring 2008, Bexley opened Sidcup Leisure Centre – the third and final facility of a £30 million 3-centre scheme delivered on time and to budget through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the London Borough of Bexley and Boxwood Leisure consortium. A key strength of the Partnership is its ‘win-win’ nature - embracing often competing public/private sector drivers of increasing participation and generating profit.”

“Win-win” and “generating profit”? Who for?


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