First there was the live animal exports compensation payment of £5.1million. The Council confirmed to me via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request I submitted earlier this year, that they held an insurance policy which “provided financial cover to pay for any legal costs and/ or compensation payments which may have to be paid for any unlawful or negligent actions by its offices and/ or elected members”. The council confirmed to me that it had submitted a claim under this policy to cover the costs associated with live animal exports compensation, but that this claim was rejected by the insurers. Why?
Well I tried to get an answer but, in its usual secretive way, TDC refused to tell me, arguing that the information I had requested was exempt under Section 43 of the FOI Act. This defence is utter nonsense and I will appealing against TDCs decision to hide the truth about this failed insurance claim. Perhaps they may eventually be forced to tell the people of Thanet the reasons why the insurance claim was rejected and why must pick up a massive and avoidable £5.1 bill. Perhaps the council had made an administrative error such as, for example, forgetting to submit its claim within the insurers prescribed time limit. Hopefully we will soon find out.
Which leads me nicely to the next alleged insurance “difficulty”. Readers of my blog and the local press will recall that last December, at Canterbury Crown Court, TDC picked up a criminal record and a £250,000 fine for breaking Health and Safety laws. Over a period of almost 10 years TDC had flouted a series of very important health and safety regulations and as a result a group of approximately 20 staff contracted Hand, Arm, Vibration Syndrome (HAVs) a notifiable industrial disease. The working, leisure and family lives of all of these staff has been seriously damaged and, in some cases, utterly ruined by what the Judge at Canterbury court agreed was Thanet Council’s institutional neglect of staff safety and its duty of care. These member of staff are rightly due compensation payments for the impact that TDCs appalling neglect had had upon their work and family lives and the pain, suffering and massive disruption they have been forced to endure because of the council’s gross incompetence.
I’m no expert, but taking account of the severity of some of the cases and the legal and medical costs related to the compensation negotiations, I would reckon that the final settlement figure might be close to £3million. Under normal circumstances the cost of compensation and associated payments would be covered by TDCs employer liability insurance policy, but I’ve heard rumours which suggest that the insurance company may have rejected the claim and that the taxpayers will, like the animal exports compensation, probably be forced to pick up a bill approaching £3million. The rumours also suggest that, once again, the insurance claim was rejected because of alleged administrative mistakes and incompetence by TDC.
Now before Thanet Council, once again, threatens me with legal action and tries to bully me into taking down this post, I would like to emphasise that the alleged problems with TDCs employer liability insurance claim is, as I have said, the subject of rumours. But these rumours come from several reliable sources. However, to be certain of what has happened I have submitted a FOI request to TDC to ascertain if all, some, or none of the HAVs compensation payment and associated costs will be covered by its insurance policy. Needless to say I am not expecting a full, open and honest answer to my questions and am sure that TDC will exploit every trick in the FOI book to avoid telling the truth about what could be a very serious issue.
But I will continue to pursue these issues because I firmly believe that public bodies like Thanet Council should be held to account for actions, especially when it might involve maladministration and incompetence. I also believe, perhaps naively, the public bodies like TDC should be open, honest and truthful to the people it serves, instead of deceitful and dishonest arse watchers determined to cover up the mistkaes and misdeeds of senior bosses and politiciansAfter all, it looks likely to me that the people of Thanet may be being forced to pick up an astronomic bill of £8 million rejected insurance claims, which may have been rejected because of massive incompetence and maladministration. That’s the equivalent of £57 for every man, woman and child living in Thanet and we all have to right to know what went wrong and who was responsible