I am publishing, in the public interest, a secret Thanet Council report which, on the basis of external legal advice, states that it will be virtually impossible for the Council to recover a penny of the astronomic £3.4million debt which is owed to Thanet Council by TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies.
This debt was the result of an agreement between Thanet Council, TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies which allowed the companies to defer the payment of fees and charges at Ramsgate Port for over 2 years.
The deal was kept top secret. It was only known about by top Council officers and approved by Council political bosses Council Bob Bayford, Martin Wise of the Tory Party and Councillors Clive Hart and Rick Everitt of the Labour Party. These councillors were kept fully briefed about the agreement and they kept it under review.
I have always said it was wrong to have kept a debt of £3.4million secret from 50 plus elected councillors and the public. I still believe this to be the case. Keeping the deal secret involved, in my opinion, breaking or ignoring Thanet Council's constitutional rules which is an extremely serious matter.
What this report shows is that if the Council had acted sooner, perhaps in late in 2011 or early 2012, it could have secured the rapidly growing TransEuropa debt against the companies assets and ensured that TDC could have recovered some of the money owing. Perhaps not the full £3.4million, but hundreds of thousands instead of losing the lot! Once again this demonstrates the staggering incompetence of Thanet Council. By failing to properly evaluate the financial risk posed by the growing debt and by failing to take mitigating action £3.4million of taxpayers money has been lost. This incompetence means that Thanet residents must now pick up the bill for a secret gamble with public money which went wrong.
What I want to know is why this report is secret? There are no reasonable grounds to classify it as restricted. The people of Thanet should be allowed to see how incompetent their Council and the politicians who run it really are. Its time for a change.