Monday, August 20, 2018

Conservative-run Northamptonshire splashed out on luxuries as its finances collapsed

Rushton Hall

Sarah Ward reports in the Northamptonshire Telegraph:
Northamptonshire County Council spent huge sums on corporate hospitality, string quartets and lavish events as it was heading towards its financial crisis. 
During 2015 when the state of the finances was becoming increasingly serious, the authority paid for a number of luxuries including £2,700 on a heritage dinner at Rushton Hall, £3,624 on a flypast at the Grafton Underwood memorial event and £4,500 on a marquee for an occasion at Boughton House, Kettering. 
It also spent £80,000 with Northampton Saints rugby club, which included the cost of a stadium hospitality box. 
The payments were made through NCC-owned company NEA Properties, which an internal council investigation has found had ‘minimal’ governance and documentation.
She goes on to explain that the money came from the sale of property to the University of Northampton. The bulk of the proceeds was returned to the council, but £120,000 was retained by NEA Properties.

The report quotes the Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Stanbra:
"There is some serious explaining that needs to be done here.
"I knew the company existed but I made the assumption that it was managing the resources properly and that all funds were coming back to the county council. 
"I certainly didn’t think they were spending money on hospitality boxes and on fly pasts at Grafton Underwood. 
"The money should not have spent on these things and of course I expect that minutes of the company meetings would have been taken and properly documented. 
"It is public money at the end of the day and it is completely wrong."

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