THE Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon rose on the floor of the House of Lords to make a statement regarding the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (TTGDC).
Lord Ahmad said: “I wish to update the House on steps that my Department took to protect taxpayers’ interests and ensure probity in the spending of public money.
As part of the Coalition Government’s broader programme of decentralisation, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation was closed in 2012 and its functions transferred to the local council.
As detailed in the Written Ministerial Statement made by the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell) on 8 October 2013, Official Report, Column WS22, during the body’s closure process, it came to Ministers’ attention that correct procedures were not followed by the Corporation resulting in irregular payments being made. A departmental investigation was initiated and this identified spending on items including the purchase of software for personal use by a senior executive of the closing body and payment in lieu of notice when this could have been avoided through timely issuing of formal notice periods to staff. A copy of the investigation report was placed in the Library of the House, further to that Written Statement.
Ministers regarded this as totally unacceptable and the Department supported Thurrock Borough Council in taking legal action to recover funds from the former Chief Executive and Director of Resources to protect taxpayers’ interests. The Council has now reached agreements with both parties that will see a total of £60,710 repaid in relation to irregular payments and a further £6,000 towards the cost of taking legal action.
I hope this sends out a strong signal about our zero tolerance towards wasting public money.