My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Thursday, 16 January 2014

I Publish Secret TransEuropa Ferries Report In the Public Interest

I am publishing, in the public interest, a secret Thanet Council report  which, on the basis of external legal advice, states that it will be virtually impossible for the Council to  recover a penny of the astronomic £3.4million debt which is owed to Thanet Council by TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies.

This debt was the result of an agreement between Thanet Council, TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies which allowed the companies to defer the  payment of fees and charges at Ramsgate Port for over 2 years.

The deal was  kept top secret. It was only known about by top Council officers and approved by Council political bosses Council Bob Bayford, Martin Wise of the Tory Party and Councillors Clive Hart and Rick Everitt of the Labour Party. These councillors were kept fully briefed about the agreement and they kept  it under review.

 I have always said it was wrong to have kept a debt of £3.4million secret from  50 plus elected councillors and the public. I still believe this to be the case. Keeping the deal secret involved, in my opinion,  breaking or ignoring Thanet Council's constitutional rules which is an extremely  serious matter.

What this report shows is that if the Council had acted sooner, perhaps in late in 2011 or early 2012, it could have secured the rapidly growing TransEuropa debt against the companies assets and ensured that TDC  could have recovered some of the money owing. Perhaps not the full £3.4million, but hundreds of thousands  instead of losing the lot! Once again this demonstrates the staggering incompetence of Thanet Council. By failing to properly evaluate the  financial risk posed by the growing debt  and by failing to take mitigating action £3.4million of taxpayers money has been lost.  This incompetence means that Thanet residents must now pick up the bill for a secret gamble with public money which went wrong.

What I want to know is why this report is secret? There are no reasonable grounds to classify it as restricted.  The people of Thanet should be allowed to see how incompetent their Council and the politicians  who run it really are. Its time for a change.


  1. I would like to know how many other businesses have benefited from the same kind of largesse. Given the secrecy surrounding this deal, it would be naïve to assume that the council has never done this sort of thing before and we can all come up with a list of glory projects which have been hailed as central to regeneration. How do we find out how much public money has been dispensed to wealthy companies by our council in their desperate attempts to subsidise big business.

  2. What a sick joke, Harvey Patterson writing this report 9 months after the failure of the shipping line when he as "chief solicitor" at TDC should have established this would be the position nearly three years ago back in March 2011, when Transeuropa stopped paying, and protected the Council Tax payers. So much for the fulfilment of his duty! Unwarranted delaying tactics mean it has taken since April last year to establish these obvious facts and publish them, three times longer than it should have. So the debt isn't recoverable as everyone knew long ago, but what we are waiting for is the official detailed explanation of which individuals are responsible for this massive financial incompetence, something else we already know but is being delayed and delayed.

  3. Well done Ian: should have been published ages ago. Along with Bayford, Hart, Wise and Everitt there is McGonagal and Patterson that should go. Why was it kept secret from their own party members and 50 elected councillors for years? It makes a mockery of a democratically elected council accountable to the public. And why have no other councillors spoken up? Are they sheep?

  4. Which councillors voted to restrict this report or does Harvey just decide to do it and tells the councillors?

  5. What are the councillor's guidelines for officials to issue restricted reports? The FOI rules of 2007 are more relevant than 1972. And after the meeting can be requested and released. Similalry filming on the night would help? And how often do councillors reverse these restrictions on the night and issue them to the public? In practice it looks like councillors - willingly -being told to be quiet on public reports. You have released the information some 3 years after the secretive decisions were made.

  6. No wonder Labour failed to act they were already in on the (secret) problem.