Monday, 20 May 2013

Transeuropa outstanding debt

Cabinet members at Thanet District Council are to consider how to tackle an outstanding debt of around £3.3 million from Transeuropa, the ferry company who recently ceased trading out of Ramsgate Port.

At their meeting on Wednesday 29 May, members will be reviewing the council’s debt position with the now insolvent company, and will consider whether to approve the use of funding identified by the council’s finance department to deal with the debt.

The council provided temporary financial support to Transeuropa following discussions in March 2011 which made it clear that this support was needed to ensure the on-going future of the business. This temporary support was subsequently extended until an investment partner could be found. Although an investment partnership was entered into in November 2012, the promised funding was not released and ultimately led to Transeuropa ceasing operations.

Although the council will take whatever action it can to chase the debt, and has already lodged this debt with the company administrators, good accounting practice means that the council needs to provide for the debt in full within its 2012/13 statement of accounts.
It is proposed to use the following sources within 2012/13 to fund this debt:
  • A sum of £1m has been identified in respect of prior year adjustments to housing benefit subsidy. This is a highly volatile budget due to the impact on the subsidy of increases in caseloads and errors in benefit calculations and so normally any underspend would be put into the Customer Services Reserve to mitigate any future overspends. However, the current balance in this reserve is considered appropriate for this purpose and therefore this budget underspend can be utilised to offset the Transeuropa debt position;
  • Unallocated unringfenced grants of £92k have been identified;
  • A balance of £43k remains on the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant reserve which is unallocated;
  • A sum of £1m will be drawn down from the New Homes Bonus;
  • Savings in the cremator project of £196k will be utilised;
  • Carry forward budgets of £257k from prior years have not been utilised and will therefore be taken to offset this debt;
  • A sum of £200k will be taken from the Priority Improvement Reserve which will still leave a balance of £405k to support invest to save and one-off initiatives;
  • A sum of £196k will be taken from the VAT Reserve;
  • The bad debt provision has been reviewed and a sum of £200k can be taken to contribute towards this debt.
The above funding sources give a total of £3,186k. It is anticipated that the balance of the outstanding debt could be covered by the councils underspend for 2012/13.


  1. Unbelievable. Another £3.3M of our money that TDC have lost on top of the recent £180,000 failed animal exports suspension costs, plus the outstanding £1.4M damages claim that now pales into insignificance. How could this have happened or is that a stupid question, and who knew about it. Obviously the Chief Executive did. To be sacked now I trust.

  2. Another crass decision of Thanet Councillors to lend £3M without safeguards.

  3. When was all this £3 million that can now suddenly be used first discovered? I thought the Council were finding things hard financially yet now it can find these sort of amounts. How much else is there available? Could our council tax be reduced?

  4. Sack McGonigal an utter failure. And completely agree: suddenly a spare £3M is found? Why hasn't this already been used/allocated to improve Thanet. Ridiculous.

    Sack more civil servants more often. A council tax strike will spur the Duffers on. We just don't need them and certainly not to fund their failure.

    1. Much as I agree with the sentiments... as I've pointed out before (to you?), it will take more than an anomymous comment to organise a council tax strike. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is and start organising something?

    2. Which failure do you mean? There are so many I am unsure.

    3. will you join the campaign Peter?

  5. This yet another financial disaster on Hart and Poole's watch. How much more do we have to put up with?

  6. In a democracy people get the leadership and governance they deserve so I guess it is time to live with the disaster we reaped at the ballot box.

  7. Does it matter who we have returned as Councillors. They are all 'advised' by the same useless officers with their own agenda's who have been promoted beyond their capabilities with huge salaries to match. None of the current Councillors of any political persuasion have the desire or ability to question what they are told. Councillors take the easy option of nodding through officer recommendations - that's the decision's they're told about. The important decisions are taken by officers and are not even recorded. Bring on a Unitary Authority and get rid of the lot of them. We might have some decent officers then.

    1. Yes, Paul, it does matter. Candidates are selected by their parties or organisations with a few always standing independently. The electorate then choose between those candidates, but in Thanet that usually means about a third bother to make such choice. The rest just whinge at the result.

      The councillors then, over the years as vacancies occur, appoint the officers and remain responsible for their hiring and firing. Whatever way you look at it, the ultimate responsibility comes back to the electorate for we choose our representatives.

      TDC is and has been sub standard, but there are far better local authorities elsewhere. What should that be telling us? That we the electorate repeatedly screw up, but then complain instead of choosing the right people in the first place and holding them to task. The latter by posing meaningful questions and demanding answers, not whining on a blog site.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Allan, I like your reply and you are pretty near the mark, but I would also like to offer some further views. I agree that TDC has been a disaster since its inception in 1974. From then until approx 2000, at the time when Aitken was ousted, TDC was strong Tory with the electorate thinking they were voting for a political party. In fact they were voting for a local mafia who were repeatedly using their positions for personal gain by bullying 2nd rate officers. Most people who have lived in Thanet for over 10 years will know who they were.

    We now have the situation where the 'elite' of the Labour Party are an unrepresentative Junta who bully officers who are now so badly compromised that they cannot dare to whistleblow for fear of loosing their jobs. Contrary to recent the propoganda, Ezekiel wasn't caught because of an officer whistleblowing.

    Because of this appalling 39 year record, the Tories have found it difficult to recruit decent candidates although there are several now, many of which have joined their ranks recently. We can only hope that the few remaining dross amongst them cross the floor and join the Independents.

    This situation has also resulted in an officer machine which is not fit for purpose. Decisions are made by senior officers without Councillors knowledge and without any record being kept. The Council's constitution even gets changed without Councillors knowledge, giving officers even more hidden powers. Many of the decent officers leave and the others just keep their heads down. A small correction to your post, the Chief Executive engages the officers, not the members.

    The answer? A Unitory Authority. Accept that Thanet for various reasons, has proved without doubt over the years, that as a District we are incapable of forming an effective administration. The constant stream of bad publicity, bad decisions, incompetence and down right corruption will be never ending. A Unitary would bring huge financial savings, a full compliment of professional officers, (Thanet doesn't even have a conservation officer now) and representation by Councillors, most of whom would have no local vested interests or petty personal agenda's and scores to settle.

  9. Interesting points 10:38 and the issue of the Unitary Authority (KCC are hardly a big improvement and many of the councillors are the same) actually seems to be Direct Rule from Westminster ie the council is inept and the councillors and civil servants need sacking/delisting with central control initially.

    The reality is TDC and RTC have collapsed. The councillors know it and have no policies other than clinging on either for the allowances or vanity.

    Ending doublehatters and creating Margate Town Council and reducing councillors would be a start: TDC would in effect then be the 3 Mayors meeting with services shared/jointly paid.

    More jail sentences are needed though: highly paid civil servants seem to have ben filling their boots both by keeping quiet and then shtum payoff blackmail.

  10. Medway is a unitary and it works well. Paul should have stated that Margate would need a town Council.

    1. Sorry I missed that point 14:36. Yes, Margate would certainly need a town Council and Kent County Council would then have no further involvement.


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