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News and Comment September 2023

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25 September - From bad to worse again

There is an Audit Committee meeting on Thursday and I was toying with the idea of attending but it looks to be a waste of time. The problem is that the public is going to be excluded from the embarrassing bit. Item 9, the bad debt situation.

I was under the impression that penny share company Capita handled debt chasing for Bexley Council but if that is correct they have made a pretty poor job of it. As of two months ago debt had reached the staggering total of £73 million.

We are owed money by the NHS (£618,000), Sadiq Khan (£501,000) Bromley Council (£438,000), Havering Council (£360,000), Newham Council (£283,000) and well over half a million by retail landlords. Council Tax payments are missing more than £40 million. Add in Business Rates and the debt rises to £44 million.

How come Bexley’s former oneSource partners are allowed to hold out on us? You would think Bexley’s Finance Director who used to work there would have a few useful contacts to lean on. He was a Capita employee in Barnet too, maybe he and his colleagues recruited there continue to retain a sense of misplaced loyalty.
Bexley negotiates its bad debts with friendly Councils, for anyone else it’s the bailiffs.

Unrecovered parking fines total £2·7 million over two years, perhaps that is why motorists need to be fleeced at the new Yellow Moneybox junctions. How can anyone claim they are a road safety measure when almost by definition they raise no money except when traffic is snarled up and moving at walking pace?

Our aspiring Chief Executive Paul Thorogood has written off £661,475 of parking penalty revenue so far this year. Fortunately for him, Cabinet Member Richard Diment is doing his level best to make up for it.

Maybe I should not have been so dismissive of the anonymous insider message that said Bexley would be the next Birmingham, but I still don’t believe it. All the figures shown above are taken from the Agenda for next Thursday’s meeting. (PDF)


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