Since my post, sources at Thanet Council have contacted me and made me aware of other developments relating to this appalling case. I was told that under normal circumstances the injured staff would have been paid compensation via TDCs Employer Liability insurance policy, and that this policy would have also covered legal fees and other associated costs. However my sources said that in this particular case the insurance company had rejected most of TDCs claim and that council tax payers would be forced a foot bill which, I was informed, could easily top £1million.
I was advised that the insurance claim had been rejected because many of the injured staff were previously employed by a private contractor which used to manage TDCs grounds maintenance operations. This contract ended about 10 years ago and the staff were transferred to the employment of TDC. At the point of transfer TDC should have conducted medical checks on its new staff but this didn’t happen. The failure to carry out medical checks on the transferring staff led, I have been told, to the insurance company arguing that some of the HAVS affected staff may have contracted the condition whilst they were employed by the private contractor and that therefore some, or all, of the compensation payments and associated costs would not be covered by TDCs Employer Liability insurance. This serious error means that, once again, the poor old council tax payers of Thanet might be forced to pick up a £multi-million bill which should have been covered by insurance, but because of mismanagement and incompetence was not.
I tried to get to the bottom of this matter and submitted a Freedom of Information request to TDC earlier this year. I received a reply from Thanet Council last month and was astounded to read “that Thanet District Council is moving to issue a refusal notice in reliance of s.14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000: Your request is, no doubt, vexatious” and that “there is no legitimate motivation driven by the information in itself you have requested”. For TDC to argue that a request for information which may reveal serious mismanagement and significant consequential costs to the public is “vexatious” defies logic. I can only assume that this refusal might have been motivated by a desire amongst top bosses/ politicians at TDC to cover up yet further embarrassing examples of incompetence, albeit several years ago, which have led to the tax payer picking up an unnecessary and avoidable bill.
I will be complaining to the Information Commissioner (IC) about this totally unjustified refusal to answer my questions. I am confident that the IC will agree with me that there is an overwhelming public interest in revealing the truth about the rejection of some/ all of TDCs insurance claim to cover the cost of the HAVS scandal. I will also be complaining to the council’s external auditor when he inspects TDCs accounts for 2016/17 later this year and requesting that he investigates these matters too. Earlier this year I alluded to this issue on this blogsite and suggested that TDCs insurers had not have met the claim in full. TDC made no comment on this post so I assume that the information I have been provided with is correct. So the question which needs to be asked is how much will the alleged insurance blunder cost you?
Well this is purely speculation on my part, but I reckon it will be more than £1million. I have broken this down in the table below
But my real anger is not directed at what I believe to be TDCs corporate cover-up culture, but the way in which TDC failed to exercise it’s duty of care of 20 or so members of its staff who’s health has now been seriously damaged as a consequence of TDCs incompetence.
Promoted & published by Ian Driver, 45 Sea View Rd, CT10 1BX. Independent Candidate, Kent County Council Election, Ramsgate Division, 4th May