At last week’s council meeting
councillor Cafer Munur asked about an objection
to Bexley’s 2013/14 accounts. There were
similar comments at the last Audit Committee meeting. I think the time has
come to admit that the objector is me and A.N. Other.
There are legal restrictions on what I have been allowed to say and I’ve taken the easy option until now and said nothing but I would rather you were kept in the picture as much as possible.
I met A.N. Other when the No to Mob were in town a few years ago and he sought my assistance in challenging Bromley’s 2012/13 accounts. I found him a Bromley resident prepared to assist because Mr. Other doesn’t live in S.E. London and therefore cannot be an objector in either Bromley or Bexley. In Bexley I am the objector and he is the brains.
Bromley’s accounts for the financial year before last are still not signed off by the auditor, not up to European Union standards but disgraceful enough and Bromley residents are still blissfully unaware of it.
Put simply, Bromley council’s contract with their parking contractor includes incentives to issue more tickets.
The question was, is Bexley up to the same tricks, and the answer is a most definite yes. I have discovered how much NSL pockets for every ticket issued beyond a certain threshold and it is a lot of money. Bexley council wasn’t silly enough to put the figure in the contract which someone may look at, they have the real contract and what could be described as a forgery. Mr. O. has seen both. Bexley’s legal eagles appear to have been duped and are now running around, if not like headless chickens at least with a lot of egg on their faces.
As far as I can judge, the Finance Department knew nothing of these arrangements, they just banked the proceeds of an illegal contract. I really cannot imagine the recently retired Director of Finance, Mr. Ellsmore, going along with anything like that and all the indications are that it came as a total surprise to him when he found out. I wouldn’t cast parking supremo Mike Frizoni in the same mould, I could believe anything of him. Look out for an early retirement and a Golden Goodbye before too long.
That brief summary of the status quo is about as far as I dare go at the moment but the auditors’ fee that worries councillor Munur should be the least of his concerns. Bexley council fleeced £5,892,380 from you in the last financial year and the case may yet go to court for a judgment to be made on who it belongs to.
The sum equates to 6% on council tax. You do not need a long memory to recall that Bexley Conservatives won the May election on the back of their dishonest claim to have frozen council tax at close to the lowest level in London when in fact Bexley is nowhere near being a top performer. Their trump card was that Labour had raised tax by 40% in four years, but then Labour wasn’t benefitting from illegally obtained funds.
Whilst it could be argued that Bexley’s Legal and Finance Departments are behaving reasonably responsibly in the face of this behind the scenes criminality there are signs that may not continue for much longer. Teresa O’Neill and her cronies have belatedly woken up to what A.N. Other and I have done and there are indications of them sticking a political oar into the matter.
Another £6 million on top of the ten they are struggling to find this year would be a calamity; but one of their own making. A council built on lies and dishonesty will eventually be undone. We already have a councillor’s and the Chief Executive and his Legal Team Manager’s dishonesty under vigorous investigation by Greenwich police and perhaps the parking team will face a similar ignominious fate.
Some will say that to have put Bexley council in such straits is a step too far but as councillor Dannny Hackett said, "You can’t put a price on democracy". Deputy leader Gareth Bacon replied to Danny’s request for more accountability by saying it would be “a nonsense” which neatly sums up his council’s philosophy.
I hope that council leader Teresa O’Neill recognises that marching up to Arnsberg Way in March 2011 to ask her obedient friends to arrest me for criticising her council was a very bad mistake. There will be no let up until she goes.
Note: Bexley has some shady deals going with its bailiffs too. Same sort of stuff. More on that another day.