Friday, 16 August 2013

Green Party Councillor Challenges Thanet Council Accounts

Green Party Councillor Ian Driver  has challenged the accounts of Thanet District Council for 2012-13.
In a letter to  the District Auditor, dated 12 August (1), Driver demands that a payment deferral agreement with  Transeuropa Ferries Ltd which led to  the Council losing £3.3million  following the company’s  liquidation in April 2013, be declared unlawful because it may have broken European Union  State Aid rules.
He also claims that legally binding financial  duties and the  Council’s own  Constitutional rules have been ignored in order to ensure that  the payment deferral  agreement was  kept “top secret”  and restricted to  a tiny group of top town hall  bosses and senior politicians (2).
Said Driver “I am appalled by what has happened! Throughout the 2012 -13 financial year Transeuropa Ferries was racking up debt to the Council  of more than  £100,000 per month, yet this reckless gamble with public money was deliberately hidden from virtually every elected councillor and kept off the public record so that Thanet taxpayers would not find out”.
“Had Council bosses and the Council Leader been open and honest about what was going on then I am certain  that action could have been taken to have reduced this astronomic  debt which will eventually have to be paid for by the taxpayer.”
“I sincerely hope that the  Auditor investigates my complaint and names and shames anyone who has acted improperly. There is no place in Thanet Council for anyone who breaks  financial rules and regulations and plays fast and loose with other peoples money”

If the  Auditor agrees that the management of the £3.3 million debt broke any laws  he can take the matter to court and ask for  these actions to be declared unlawful. He can also  issue a Report in the Public Interest which explains what the Council did wrong and what actions it must take in future to manage its finances more effectively(1).

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