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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thanet Council Moonlighting & Property

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am stickler for probity and honesty in public life. Some would say too much of a stickler.  I have written several pieces about the less than transparent shenanigans of council politicians which have led to resignations, investigations and some red faces. So I was very intrigued to read the blogpost of my Green Party colleague Ed Targett, http://greentargett.com/2015/04/21/conflict-for-councils-property-boss/
 
Ed who  is standing as PPC for North Thanet and a TDC council candidate in Margate Central, wrote a most interesting post  about the Head of Regeneration and Property Services who is also a Director of a company called Proprisk.

Not that I am suggesting anything improper. To the best of my knowledge the Head of Regeneration and Property Services is a highly professional officer with an expertise in the property field. However, it would be fair comment to say that it is most unusual for a council officer to also be a company Director. Especially when  Thanet Council’s Officer Code of Conduct says that “Employees above Local Grade 6 shall normally be expected to devote their whole time service to the work of the Authority and shall not engage in any other additional employment without the express consent of the Authority”. As an elected councillor representing Ramsgate residents I personally expect senior officers on good salaries to serve only one master - TDC. I don't except them to the follow the example of  many of our Tory and Labour MPs who have  their pockets stuffed with cash from moonlighting as consultants, directors, columnists and after dinner speakers.
Also the fact that the officer concerned is the Director of a company which conducts its business in a similar area to  her paid post with Council raises potential questions of conflict of interest. Not that I am suggesting for a moment that there are such conflicts in this case. However, I believe that in the interests of openness and transparency the Council needs to explain what steps it has taken to ensure that all  possible risks  and conflicts associated with being the Council’s most senior property manager, whilst at the same time being a Director of a property related company , are being properly managed. This is why I have written to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

 
Dear Mr Boyle
It has come to my attention that the Head of Regeneration and Property Services is a director of Proprisk Ltd. Company Number 08645044. Website link http://proprisk.co.uk/index.shtml  I believe that the company was set up roughly at the time that the Head of Regeneration and Property Services became employed by the Council.

The Council’s Officer Code of Conduct requires that

·        Employees' off-duty hours are their personal concern, but they should not subordinate their employment relationship with the Authority to their private interests or put themselves in a position where there is a conflict of interests

·        The Authority will not normally prevent an employee from undertaking additional employment or other commitments, but any such employment must demonstrably not conflict with, or in any way weaken public confidence in, the conduction of the Authority's business.

 
·        Employees above Local Grade 6 shall normally be expected to devote their whole time service to the work of the Authority and shall not engage in any other additional employment without the express consent of the Authority

 

·        Employees must give notice in writing of any financial or non-financial interests which are clear and substantial and which could bring about a conflict with the Authority's interests. Any change must be similarly notified

 
For the sake of clarity, pleased by advised that I am not suggesting that the Head of Regeneration and Property Services has contravened any Council policy nor am I suggesting that the Head of Regeneration and Property Services has in any way acted improperly. Indeed I believe  her to be a professional member of the officer team. However, in accordance with the Council’s policy of openness and transparency I would like to raise the following questions with you:
 

·        Did the Head of Regeneration and Property Services declare her position as Director of Proprisk to the Council? If so when? If not what action will be taken?

 
·        Has the Council evaluated the potential risks and conflict arising from the Head of Regeneration and Property Services also being the Director of a property related company? Please provide further details.
 

·        Has the Head of Regeneration and Property Services ever notified the Council of any conflicts of interest between her employment at TDC and her Directorship at Proprisk?

 
·        The Head of Regeneration and Property Services is employed on a salary scale above Grade 6. Does her position as Director of Proprisk place her in contravention of the requirement not to engage in other employment,  or has the Council given its express consent to allow the Head of Regeneration and Property Services to have what amounts to 2 jobs?

 

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely  Cllr Ian Driver

4 comments:

  1. Very fishy and the site looks to be active to at least Feb 2014.

    Who is the Head of Regeneration and how much is a Grade 6 salary?

    Service charge resolution on the website would be reducing council charges?

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  2. Well done Ed and Ian: Edwina Crowley looks dodgy in sitting both sides of thr fence in dealing with council property. She must resign

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  3. How many more bloody here today gone tomorrow heads of regeneration are TDC going to have?

    Nothing appears straightforward at TDC. Makes you wonder if the one before the one before last was lining up ORegan before he left.

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  4. Another fine Labour mess that UKIP have to clean up.

    If people do not know, since UKIP got into power they been sued £3million for blood money for not dealing with the lifestock ships properly and Dreamland have overspent £2million in the last year. Both because Labour was useless when they were in power.

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