Thank you to my friend Simon from up on the River Medway for this story. Cllr. Nick Chard Conservative Cabinet Member for Finance at Kent County Council was responsible for shoddy financial systems which cost us £3 million.
Kent County Councillor Trudy Dean explained to yesterday's BBC File On 4,
"The named individual did not open the email until after the deposit was made and there are clearly questions being asked whether that process was sufficiently robust."
You can see a news summary and download the podcast from here
Kent’s part starts at 22 minutes in and lasts for about 8 minutes.
What is not made clear is how unprofessional this was. In any organisation dealing with large amounts of money the main way you get fraud or big mistakes is by having only one signatory. So even the smallest public organisations usually have at least 2 signatures on the cheque book/bank account to make fraud, and also genuine errors far less likely. We all make mistakes, and a double check is just obvious common sense.
Not to Nick Chard though, who allowed this sloppy single signature system to prevail. This despite Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) Accountants confirming that proper procedures were not being implemented on deposits.
So the staff member takes a day off. Why was nobody covering? After all daily interest on £3million at the time would have been in the order of £400 a day! They come back from leave and transfer £3 million literally into a bottomless pit.
Then they open the email telling them not to transfer any more money. Too late, the money has gone and we have all lost out. If the individual was only following procedure then it is hard to see how they were at fault, although how come nobody telephoned from Kent’s financial advisors? They just sent an email! Seems like they did not even ask for confirmation of receipt. Amazing when millions of ounds were at stake.
Who were these advisors? Butlers. (Somebody has told me this company, or its owners donate money to the Conservative Party – does anybody know if this is the case?)
The person responsible for carrying out these managerial actions is cabinet member for Finance Nick Chard. He is evasive in the radio interview, refuses to answer questions , and takes no personal responsibility for his failure to implement the professional independent recommendations that would have saved us £3 million.
There were warnings 2 years ago as well. Down in south west Kent at Shepway Council they did they were advised 2 years ago and pulled out all of their money from Iceland. It is an interesting point that Shepway had exactly the same financial advisors as Kent, Butlers.
It therefore seems even worse that Kent had poor procedures when Thanet and Shepway avoided the same problems. What were Thanet’s Kent Conservative County councillors doing? Why did they fail to pick this up on this with some of them also being District Councillors as well. Did they not know to pass the message on?
I would welcome hearing the views of Chris Wells and Bill Hayton on this, who are both Thanet and Kent Conservative councillors.
That is £500,000 plus £500,000 plus £3,000,000 wasted by Kent Conservatives. A total of £4,000,000 wasted and I am sure there will be more to come. £4 for every girl, woman and pensioner in Kent.
Now a reasonable person would conclude that the correct thing for Nick Chard to do would be to resign. I wonder if any readers have a copy of the Kent Conservative Party rule book? I am wondering if there is a rule there that says
“As a Kent Conservative you are never wrong, you should never do the honourable thing and resign.”
Cllr. Ezekiel will not resign, Cllr. Chard will not resign.
What does that say about the standards of Kent Conservatives?