Thursday, February 23, 2017

Oakham Town Council Bench Painting Mystery Unlawful Expenditure

Oakham Town Council Bench Painting Mystery Expenditure

Over a period of many years the Town Council has spent many thousands of pounds with
a local contractor who paints all the towns benches. each year the cost rises.

I once asked the former clerk why we don't tender and why the contract is split into two.

They responded it was split in two because it saves going out to tender, which of course
is unlawful.

After many times of raising this issue at council and the clerk being paid off things looked
as if they were changing at OTC.

On the 27th July 2016 the councils defunct Planning and Parks met and rejected a
single quote from the current contractor and requested the Locum Clerk went away
and obtain two more quotations.

This never happened.

Then the contractor started work painting the benches, My email concerns were ignored by the office. The contractor was then paid.
I pointed this out at a meeting when the council approved the schedule of payments.
I was once again ignored,

I raised this incident with the Clerk yesterday.

The Chairman of the Council Cllr Adam Lowe has this morning sent me a message
stating, "the office was not involved in this incident"

A bit of a mystery when you consider they office is required to raise a work orders
and check that order exists before preparing any payment to be made by the council a work
order should contain details of the council minuted approval.
This is also something which should be checked by the two councillors who sign the checks,
When I watch the ritual of cheque signing it is obvious they would sign anything
placed in front of them. Recently a Cllr missed  a cheque and a member of staff
said you forgot one and the Cllr signed it without looking at any of the supporting
documents. I pointed this out to another Cllr who had also seen and they jokingly said
put a cheque in for me also.
The problem is a serious one a very small group is running the council and take no notice
of the rest of the members.

The last audit report described by the Chairman as not a report, was very critical of
the council and for lack of financial controls and unlawful spending which resulted
in the resignation of the ex Mayor Alf Dewis.
The Council continually blames staff sickness, this poor excuse is used far to often
We were told the temp clerk was qualified and I can see he is not even capable of
following the council minuted instructions to obtain and present two additional quotes
to council. Probably because he is to busy supporting ex Cllrs and using Clerks reports
at meetings to attack me constantly.

In the external audit report of 2014 -2015 The External Auditor warned the council that they came very close to being prosecuted in the high court.

"This incident" as the current Mayor describes it comes only months after that
report was published, I wonder if the 2016 - 2017 audit will see the town council
prosecuted in the high court this time. I hope so because I think it is the only way the council
is gong to change for the good of the town.

If our financial procedures where being followed, then this contractor should not have
been paid.

I dispute the Chairman's comment the office was involved in this unlawful incident
or is it case that a Councillor only known to him has accessed the council accounts
and authorised another unlawful payment?

The office must be involved did they not raise a work order, did they not raise a payment and
send it once a invoice was received?