Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cornwall Council Credit Cards - the questions that need to be answered

Following the Telegraph revelations and Cornwall Council's response, there are a large number of questions that still need to be answered.

Yesterday I got in touch with Cllr John Keeling, the Indie who chairs the Corporate Resources scrutiny committee which has a meeting scheduled for Thursday. I asked him, given the serious nature of the allegations raised by the Telegraph, whether he would be prepared to add the issue as an urgent item on the agenda. I'm very grateful to him for agreeing to do so.

Earlier today I sent the list of questions below to him and to Kevin Lavery, Cornwall's Chief Executive so that officers have the chance to get the answers for Thursday.

1. How many corporate credit cards are there and who has them?
2. Who authorises spending and what limit does each card have?
3. Who checks statements when they come in?
4. Has any fraud on a Cornwall Council credit card ever been suspected and what was the outcome of any investigation?
5. Why was the Daily Telegraph handed incorrect data?
6. Why were amounts in foreign currency logged onto the Cornwall Council system as sterling?
7. Has any officer involved in processing statements or checking payments been made redundant or any such posts been left vacant?
8. What rules are in place governing the type of spending which may be put on Cornwall Council credit cards?
9. How many times were Cornwall Council credit cards used to purchase alcohol, by whom and for what reason?
10. Why does Cornwall Council choose to pay utility bills on credit cards rather than by another means, for instance direct debit, which might be cheaper?
11. In comparison with other authorities for which data was released to the Telegraph, Cornwall Council uses credit cards a lot more. Why is this?
12. Are credit card balances paid off in full every month. If not, what interest has accrued since Cornwall Council came into being?
13. Who ordered 'pure silk ties' and for what reason?
14. What policies are in place governing the amount that may be spent on restaurant meals and hotel room rates?
15. What is the total credit card spending on amounts below £500 for each month covered by the Telegraph data?
16. Which entries in the Telegraph database are incorrect and what is the correct figure in each case?
17. For each of the international flights and overseas hotel bills listed, please provide information as to who made the trip, for what purpose and on what basis the particular flight and hotel were chosen?
18. Do any of the payments listed for hotels in Cornwall refer to the provision of accommodation for consultants or Cornwall Council staff and, if so, in what circumstances?
19. Will the Council refer the issue of Cornwall Council credit card spending and use to a competent outside body such as the Audit Commission for investigation and recommendations as to future best practice?

Apparently the Council Leader has told tomorrow's Western Morning News that he can't be expected to know every detail. Of course not, but, as my colleague Jeremy Rowe has pointed out, it does look at the moment as though everyone is in charge of lecturing us about saving money and no one is actually doing it.

1 comment:

mdavis1 said...

Hi Alex - some of the questions you ask here are answered in the latest statement: http://bit.ly/kmuqgZ

Kind regards,
Miles Davis - Cornwall Council communications