17 April 2010

And you're still paying............

Casting an eye over the recent payments schedule made by Somerton Town Council one particular item caught my attention:

491 6605 STOKES PARTNERSHIP LTD (Legal Fees re: FoI request) 587.50

From my own limited knowledge of the previous administration's activities, this payment most likely relates to the last 'legal opinion' that the Keenan/Canvin administration sought in their ultimately futile efforts to maintain a cloak of secrecy around Somerton Town Council's records.

Not wishing to belabour the point but anyone with a fragment of good sense might have been able to predict that the Office of the Information Commissioner would find in favour of the disclosure of Public Records. But that good sense was clearly absent within the Keenan/Canvin administration and they carried on spending public money in their efforts to keep their 'secret activities' secret, and today, the bills keep coming in.

Sadly, the Town Council cannot refuse, as I understand it, to pay these bills because the lawyers were requested to undertake work, whether it was a fools errand or not, so they are entitled to present a bill and expect payment. But might not the Keenan/Canvin administration have the decency to stump-up for these costs, incurred, as they were, in activities that were quite unjustified. And maybe ex-Cllr Beale might want to contribute to the professional costs incurred last year when the then goode councillor instigated the hare-brained scheme to knock a huge hole in the gable end of the Lady Smith Hall. From memory that was in the region of £900, once again paid for by the community.

It will be a relief when this sad saga comes to an end but it is worth reminding everyone that the Keenan/Canvin administration was making hay for almost 7 months, between April and October 2009. Those month's expenditure should be subject to exactly the same scrutiny that the External Auditor is currently giving to fiscal 2008/2009. Maybe the Keenan/Canvin administration's members should be invited to stump up for the Auditor's costs as well.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly