In this years accounts you will see that a debt provision of £3.3million has been included to cover the money owed to Thanet Council by the Transeuropa Ferries following a secret deal with the company to defer fee payments for almost 3 years. I have asked Ms Martin for permission to inspect and copy the associated books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to this debt. My request to see these documents has already been refused 3 times so far. Will the Council change its mind?
After inspecting the Council's draft accounts you can then raise any questions and concerns with District Auditor Mr Andy Mack who will approve the accounts. Mr Macks's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have an appointment booked with Mr Mack on 8 August to express my concerns about the Transeuropa situation.
Here is a copy of the e-mail I have sent to Sarah Martin asking to see the Transeuropa documents. Please feel free to use this e-mail to see if the Council will let see the Transeuropa papers and let me know how you get on
Dear Ms Martin
Inspection of Thanet Council Accounts 2012-13
I understand that the Council’s accounts for 2012-13 and the associated books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to these accounts are open to public inspection between 15 July and 9th August.
The Council’s Chief Executive has advised me and the Council’s Draft Statement of Accounts 2012/13 show that these accounts include a provision for a £3.3 million debt owed to the Council by Transeuropa Ferries and/ or associated companies involved in the operation of the Ramsgate - Ostend ferry service which ended in April 2013.
Under the terms of the The Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011 and the Audit Commission Act 1998 I am writing to ask that I be allowed to inspect and copy some, or all, of the “books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating” to this debt and the explanation of it in the draft accounts.
In particular I would like to see
1. A copy of any signed agreements, contracts or documents between Thanet District Council, Transeuropa Ferries, and/ or any associated companies involved in the operation of the Ramsgate - Ostend ferry service which show : a) what tariffs and discounts would be applied and billed for their freight and passenger services, b) which Companies would be billed, c) what the payment terms would be (in days), d) the “agreement with Transeuropa in March 2011” per the draft accounts, e) what was agreed “to defer fees” per the draft accounts, f) the agreed “payment plan” per the draft accounts, and g) “the promise of funding from an Italian investor” per the draft accounts.
2. Evidence of any Cabinet level approvals for the agreements, contracts or documents described in 1. above.
3. Copies of any documents related to the agreements, contracts or documents described in 1 above including a) any contract reviews b) any risk assessments, c) any credit checks, d) the Council’s Income/Debt Management Protocol, and e) the written approval to depart from the Protocol.
4. Copies of any other agreement or contract or heads of terms between Thanet District Council and potential investors in Transeuropa Ferries regarding the payment of debts owed to Thanet Council by Transeupropa Ferries and/ or associated companies.
5. Bearing in mind the overall Transeuropa debt and payment history you previously sent me, an explanation as to why no bad debt provision relating thereto was included in the Council’s 2010-11 or the 2011-12 accounts and copies of any correspondence or documents exchanged between the Council’s external auditors agreeing to the non-inclusion of this debt in previous years accounts, which has resulted in the £3 million charge in the 2012-13 accounts
6. Copies of all invoices raised by the Council in relation to the operation of
the Ramsgate - Ostend ferry service for the months of March 2011, March 2012 and March 2013.
7. Copies of all the Transeuropa accounts in the Council’s Sales Ledger as at 31 March 2013 that in aggregate total to the £3.3million quoted in the draft Statement of Accounts, i.e. including Transeuropa Shipping Lines doo, Transeuropa Ferries NV, Odyssy Maritime Co Ltd, Forsythia Maritime Co Ltd, Dianthus Maritime Co Ltd and any other relevant companies.
8. Details of any arrears in Business Rates owed to the Council by Transeuropa Ferries and/ or associated companies involved in the operation of the Ramsgate to Ostend ferry service.Please advise me when would be convenient to inspect and copy these documents.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Councillor Ian Driver