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When our Chair was elected in May our clerk was quick to hire their company to undertake some health and safety checks (they run a small h&s consultancy company) - from memory there were two quotes but we were never presented with them just told and the clerk gave the work the chair. Since then there have been several more contracts given to the chair and this month alone over £2300 paid out to their company for 3 different jobs. The finance committee at the suggestion of the clerk raised the threshold for quotes from £750 to £1000 does anyone know if this threshold would be net of tax because if so rather interestingly the two jobs came in net below the threshold....so far since May invoices have exceeded £4000 in total to the chair's company and it all is beginning to look suspicious and stink. We never seen any other quotes.
by (560 points)

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In theory, a contract awarded to a company connected with a councillor is not in itself forbidden, but the procedures by which that contract is awarded need to be totally open, transparent and with appropriate declarations of interest etc. made.  I would expect all such potential contracts to be agreed by full council even if they fall below the threshold for comparative quotes per your financial regulations, for quotes to be anonymised and when payments are made to the contractor, those payments to be approved by full council even though they may fall within a delegated authority to authorise granted to a committee and/or officer.  Whenever the work, specification for the contract or discussion on the contract or payments to that councillor comes up in a meeting, that councillor must declare an interest an leave the room.  It doesn't sound like any of that is happening.
A council nearby to me is currently dealing with the fall out from something like this from some years ago.  It is not pleasant and the police are involved with allegations of fraud.
by (20.2k points)
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0 votes
You and me both ! You and your fellow Councillors need to tackle this before it goes public

Even if it’s claimed that it’s done at “mates rates” it gives the Chair excessive leverage over the Council

PS have these transactions been shown in the Declaration of Interests if not get a complaint lodged immediately with the Monitoring Officer
by (11.7k points)
Yes I shall be making a complaint to Monitoring Officer. And yes it stinks and yet it persists and the chair does the clerk's bidding because errr he is getting lucrative work from them.
0 votes
All quotes must be seen by either the full council or a duly delegated committee. The decision rests with the elected members. The Clerk's authority to spend relates solely to items included in the council's budget for the year, so if you haven't budgeted for this work, the Clerk cannot authorise it. Does your finance committee have delegated authority to alter the council's financial regulations? That would be unusual. The thresholds exclude VAT, as they relate to the cost to the council, which ultimately will not pay the VAT. Finally, I'm puzzled about your need to offer so many different jobs to a health and safety consultancy.
by (54.1k points)
the recommendation to change the Financial regs did come to council but they unquestioningly unanimously voted it through.....I wasn't there. I can find no resolution for the work nor approval of the Chair's company to do the work. Because it falls under £1000 (just) although the other is over £1000 I suspect the clerk will plead delegated powers....but the work was also NOT in the budget as you say - where can I get further clarification of that as the clerk is saying the work fell under the budget heading of 'general maintenance' which seems like a catchall
The council minutes.  Anything delegated to the clerk must the subject of a council decision to do so.
in which case I cannot find anything in the minutes that approves this. Thanks for your clarification.
On reflection, the extent of the delegation could also be stated in your Financial Regulations which themselves are subject to approval by the council.  It might be worth a look.
a duly delegated committee of the council for items over £1000; or
• the Clerk/RFO, in accordance with the Scheme of Delegation for any items up to £1000.
0 votes
On the tax question it is probably irrelevant as PC's have a one sided VAT situation in that they do not charge vat but can claim all vat payments from HMRC
by (27.4k points)
0 votes
If you can’t find the details issue a Freedom of Information request using Whatdotheyknow.com it might take the sting out of it if a third party made the request
by (11.7k points)

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