Government waste hits new levels as local council spends £4m on small maintenance contractor

A bad day at the office for Kingston Council

by The Humph on 13 May 2013 11:59

There are two ways of looking at this story.

The first: One might argue the headline used here is slightly misleading since it would appear more likely that there has either been a considerable administrative glitch at Kingston Council, or perhaps even that a member of staff there is involved in some serious fraudulent activity.

Before we continue, here are the details courtesy of This is Local London

Kingston Council has begun an investigation into its finances after its records showed it had paid a small maintenance company more than £4m in the past five years.

Bosses at Teasdale Group – based in Tolworth – are bemused by the figures.

In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by a member of the public, Kingston Council said it has spent £4.1m between 2008-09 and 2012-13 even though it has a contract worth only £50,000 a year.

In 2008-09 alone, the data claimed Teasdale was paid £2.4m for jobs such as out of hours emergency works and installing road panels.

Teasdale director Andy Potter said the news was “a complete curve ball”.

Mr Potter said: “My turnover in any one year has never been anywhere near £2.4m and that is across the whole company, not just one contractor. That figure cannot be correct.

“I have had no contact from Kingston Council on this matter. This is the first I have heard of it.

“We are a local company employing local people and we offer a good service. But I know for a fact that is incorrect. We just have not done that much work.”

Which brings us to the second angle. What's more frightening: a local council that spends £4m on small maintenance contractor, or a local council capable of accounting for £4m expenditure with no questions asked?

The moral of the story: be grateful for diligent citizens and freedom of information.

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