My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Breaking News. Alleged Council Insurance Blunder Costs You £1Million?

In November 2016 I reported that Canterbury Crown Court had fined  Thanet Council (TDC)   £250,000 for  breaching health and safety laws and causing serious and irreparable injury to a large group of its  employees.  The court heard how, over a period of almost a decade,  managers at Thanet Council, including some in the most senior positions, ignored and flouted Health and Safety laws resulting in approximately 20 grounds maintenance staff contracting Hand Arm, Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).  HAVS is a very serious medical condition which is contracted through prolonged, over-use of  vibrating equipment. It  can be extremely  painful,  debilitating,  and life-changing. HAVs is  entirely avoidable if management follows well established guidance but  they didn’t; preferring instead to grossly mismanage staff safety and to break the law as well.

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
 
Also it has been brought to my attention that so serious is the condition of some of the HAVs affected staff that they have been placed  on “light duties” and that the council has been forced to hire additional workers to carry out their work which would otherwise not be done. This has allegedly been happening for over 2 years and the additional cost to the council is approaching £250,000.  Although, as I have said, these figures are estimates, my forthcoming complaint to the Council’s external auditor and the IC and other Freedom of Information requests I will be submitting about this matter, will eventually reveal exactly how much this appalling insurance blunder and the associated prolonged corporate flouting of health and safety laws has cost  you the tax payers.
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

3 comments:

  1. i know some lads have been paid out with havs but they have only worked for thanet council there is a group that hasnt been paid out yet which is long over due and they worked for previous contractors before tdc took it back in house its one big joke for these workers having to wait and wait after being made basically disabled by tdc cock ups yet again never no health surveillance in place nothing about time this other group was paid there compensation of what they are rightly owed

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    1. The thing which makes me most angry about all this is the way staff have been treated by Thanet Council bosses. They have broken health and safety rules and as you rightly say have been responsible for disabling and harming people because they properly and lawfully look after their staff. Now it appears from what you are saying there have been long delays in paying out compensation. This is wrong and shameful. In my opinion some individuals should have faced criminal prosecution for their role in this. I hope the compensation gets sorted out soon. My number and e-mail are on this page contact me if you like

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  2. ive been watching this havs case with tdc for the last couple of years since it leaked out, funny isnt it the people that was in charge ie mark seed paul verrall sue mcgonigal all gone with lovely big handshakes of cash and no questions asked, yet the affected workers having to wait and wait for what they are intitled to in compensation, disgusting and the workers are the innocents that was just doing there jobs while the idiots in charge got paid loads of cash for doing fk all as usual except putting more burden on the tax payers of thanet

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