Cllr Mark Fittock Standing outside Alexandria Suite after STC meeting

Half a Million Pound Loss?

A £500,000 drop in reserves and balances held by Swanley Town Council was disclosed at the meeting of the Councils Finance Committee on 22 June.  This was declared in the Annual Return which had delayed due to demands on the workload of the Town Clerk.

Labour Councillors asked why there was some £16,000 payments and £26,000 receipts not on the bank statements and that some of these transactions had been outstanding since 2014. Unfortunately the Internal Auditor was not present to explain why these long standing issues had not been resolved.

Cllr Southern the Conservative Chairman explained that the limited information provided did not represent a profit and loss statement. Many transactions had been charged to incorrect account headings. But it was hoped that by October the Council will have an access to much clearer and up to date reporting structure.

These admissions of poor record keeping and accounting by the Conservative Administration are in total contrast to the statements made to community groups only last Autumn when they sought to justify the 300% price hike on council venues.

Mark Fittock

Labour Councillor, Hextable

Is Swanley Town Council Fawlty Towers?

Last night I went to the meeting of the Development Control and Finance and Audit Committees at Swanley Town Council. It was most enlightening. I must say that it was an experience.

Here are some of the things that I experienced:

  • There were no agendas offered to member s of the public, not even to share. So much for the Tory claim that they are a transparent council.
  • The Town Clerk was the only officer present. I wonder why? So as well as answering questions she was struggling to record the minutes. What happened to Geoff , the former clerk?
  • The minutes of a previous meeting were considered and Cllr Mike Hogg, the Leader of Labour Group, was recorded as being a committee member, which he is not, and present, when he was on holiday. This is just one of several inaccuracies.
  • A sum of £500,000 disappeared from the reserves. Where did this money go?
  • Budgets were overspent, one by over £137,000. Where are the controls on spending?
  • There is a massive difference between Budgeted Figures and the amount spent all across the accounts. There appears to be no financial control by the Tory leadership.
  • The Town Clerk seems to now also be Finance Officer. We can only guess what happened to the previous one.
  • The Town Clerk also seems to be trying to be Committee Clerk and Chief Executive. There are not enough hours in the day for anyone to do all of these jobs properly?
  • Who got the blame for all this mess? The Tories were blaming the previous Labour Council in full council meetings last year. It was pointed out to them that they have been ruling the council for 5 years. Now they are blaming  the quality of the software they use. No mention of why it has taken them 5 years to find out that the software was so useless.

Cutting back and giving the Town Clerk too much work to do is turning Swanley Town Council into a farce.

Swanley & District Labour Party Observer.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Half a Million Pound Loss?

  1. Mark,

    Surely having one person do all roles is against the constitution? I am a member of the WI and if we are unable to get sufficient members in their respective roles, that WI then folds; I stepped up to the plate to stop this very thing happening.

    What is our recourse? Can we not show a vote of no confidence?…

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    1. Swanley Town Council has drastically reduced its workforce running down and selling off venues and driving out community groups in addition to withdrawing from the maintenance of our grass verges and open spaces. With this reduction in services one would expect to see a corresponding reduction in admin function and staff.

      However, while making these drastic cuts the Conservative administration have a responsibility to maintain proper governance of public money. Managing change is never an easy task. Keeping staff committed during times of change is a challenge that resulted in a very high turnover of staff, including finance staff.

      This has resulted in the Chief Executive taking on the role of Responsible Finance Officer in addition to her current heavy work load. Combining the two jobs is quite legal for small parish councils but seems to have created problems with accounting as identified by Cllr Hogg.

      Mark

      Like

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