Wednesday, 12 June 2013


On 29 May I attended a meeting of Thanet Council Cabinet to ask questions about TransEuropa. At that meeting the Chief Executive sated that she had briefed the Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee about the issue.
I understand that the Chairman of that Committee has stated that he has never been briefed by the Chief Executive about  Transeuropa. I also understand that the Vice-chairman of the Governance & Audit Committee who  attends all the briefing meetings with her Chairman agrees that she has  never been advised  about this issue. Furthermore, I understand that the previous Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee has said that he was never  briefed about the TransEuropa debt arrangement either.

I recently received a copy of a statement prepared by the Chief Executive of Thanet Council in response to the District Auditor request for her to comment on my questions about this affair. In this statement she says

"The position was also not reported specifically to Governance and Audit as part of the 2011/12 closure of accounts process as it was agreed with the auditors that as agreement had been reached over a debt repayment plan, there was no need to make explicit reference to the Transeuropa debt position within the accounts or make a provision for the outstanding debt".

So here's a conundrum the Chief Executive advises the Cabinet that she briefed the Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee about Transeuropa. Then, in statement to the District Auditor, she says that the issue was not reported specifically to Governance  & Audit. Dooohhhh!

What's going on here? This is all very odd especially because the Governance and Audit Committee plays a central and critical  role in ensuring the good management  of the Council finances. It's terms of reference  require the committee -

To monitor the effective development and operation of risk management and governance in the council (e,g the risk management associated with allowing struggling  Transeuropa to run up a debt of £3.4million);

To oversee the application of the council's governance arrangements for partnership activities where the council is the accountable body (e.g. the arrangement to allow an external partner - Transeuropa - to run up debts of £3.4 million with the Council);

To approve the annual Statement of Accounts. Specifically, to consider whether appropriate accounting policies have been followed and whether there are concerns arising from the financial statement or from the audit that need to be brought to the attention of the council (my concern would be the  large debt with Transeuropa which Governance and Audit should have reported to Council, but which was not reported to Governance and Audit)

It seems to me that by not reporting the Transeuropa issue to the Council's Governance and Audit Committee the Committee's role has been undermined and it has been prevented from properly fulfilling its constitutional function. To  describe this is an extremely serious  issue would be an understatement.

Fortunately we will soon find out what has happened.

I understand that the Chairman of Governance and Audit is to put it mildly very "unhappy"  about the difficult  position the Chief Executive's  ambiguous comments/ actions  have placed him in. He has therefore asked for Transeuropa  be placed on the agenda of the next Governance and Audit meeting on 26 June, where no doubt the Chief Executive will be asked to give a full explanation about her  mixed messages and apparent failure to report serious financial issues and risk  to a body which is constitutionally charged  to oversee these matters .

I have a feeling that lots of people might be coming to listen to this debate. My sources tell me that the meeting has been moved from a box room under the stairs at Fortress Fanet to the Council Chamber to accommodate the heaving throng. Shall I bring my camera to record proceedings. Perhaps not. Cabinet rules only allow the use of equipment that's accredited, Sadly my  equipment has not been accredited for a while. 


  1. "The Governance and Audit Committee plays a central and critical role in ensuring the good management of the Council finances". You jest Ian. McGongal are her crew tell Cllrs what they want them to know and nothing more. You will never change that without changing your senior officers. They treat Cllrs as idiots and many of them are.

  2. The meeting is on the 26th not the 27th

  3. I find it outrageous that the Chief Executive kept councillors in the dark about this little arrangement!

  4. So at the sametime as TDC was subsidising Trans Europa Ferries European grant money was paying for works to the military road arches part of the port estate.
    It seems a strange state of affairs that the Windfarms pay in a couple of million a year, the council gives it straight to Trans Europa, at the same time the Cheif Exec is saying that things are carried out according to rules and regs of CIPFA { The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy}
    How much of a payout will she get when she leaves one wonders.

  5. We'll all start feeling the moratorium on spending imposed by McGonigal because of Ferrygate. TDC will start laying of the working staff soon.

  6. "You will never change that without changing your senior officers."

    You don't need to change the officers. You need councillors who recognise that it is THEIR job to run the council and that the officers are there to serve them. This relationship has been the wrong way around for a long time. For a start, councillors should hold officers accountable for the costs of refusing to provide information to members of the public. For too long, officers have been able to obstruct investigations. When the FOI commissioner has ruled against them they have never been held to account.

  7. I wonder if the shredders in TDC Margate are overworked at present?

  8. CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed.

    Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.
    The 2 paragraphs above are from the CIPFA website, Dr Mc Gonigal espouses the values of CIPFA has been known to state that she wants TDC accounts to be based on CIPFA principals, I wonder if she is going to do the honourable thing and resign...... I would hope so but won't hold my breath.

  9. The Great Pretender McGonigal designed the Council's executive structure including pretending she knew how a port should be managed and who should manage every department. The leading politicians sucked it all up, after all they had appointed the young inexperienced McGonigal on £114,000 so she must know what she's doing. Straight away the ferry debt mounted up but was kept secret and tolerated as prompt action would have shed light on this instant management failure, and so it was allowed to pile up in the hope it would quietly go away. This can be the only reason they kidded themselves that firstly Transeuropa had suddenly become trustworthy, and then later that a bunch of Italians would have any motivation at all to pick up a mountain of old unsecured debts owed to a pair of desperate ports.

  10. What is the point of the Council having a Scrutiny and an Audit committee when the Chairman of both committees (and their predecessors) are kept in the dark? The Chief Executive needs GO!

  11. Ian, I'm writing to you on behalf of everyone in the No to Tesco at Arlington group. It seems that every cllr in Thanet is now supporting this monstrosity, can we really on you to raise the issue at a TDC meeting? Thank you.

    1. So, are you with us or against us???

    2. I and the Thanet Green Party are 100% with you. I have just prepared a press release which I will be publishing here shortly. Please get in touch as I would like to work with you. Despite Pickles' ill-conceived decision the superstore is not a foregone conclusion and a lot can be done to stop it

  12. Ian. I am performing admirably in diverting the attention of Thanet Bile Spewers Inc towards me. I hope you are enjoying the break from their attentions.

    I sent you a link to the Auditor guidelines and a stated case that may be of interest. Ultimately it seems the auditor can Judicial Review the Council.

    It seems to be an issue of jurisdiction again. As you know I reached impasse with TDC recently as a matter of law is the jurisdiction of full council.

    And you have hit a nail on the head seeking who consented to depart from the debt management guidelines.

    Could I ask people who post on blogs and who are replied to as "Rick" to clarify that you are not me ?