EDDC new HQ: take pics, post and boast on social media and ….

On 10 January 2019 EDDC posted pictures of its glam new shiny HQ building in Honiton

Unfortunately, they didn’t think it through and here are a few comments on that post:

Excellent!! So whilst many many families can’t afford to eat and are having to use food banks, or can’t afford gas and electric, you decide, the best thing to do is to put on your page pictures of your new offices, that the people who can’t afford to eat, have paid for it. …

They do as they please because they’re a law unto themselves. They can do what they want with your money and get away with it. You can argue with them til your blue in the face and NOTHING. They will always win. …

Shame you sold all the stuff from the old building off dirt cheap to the staff and councillors. £50 for a 24 seat mahogany table. Shame shame shame on you. …

My god, the more I see this, the more it’s unbelievable, really EDDC, you should be ashamed, not only is this building an eye sore on our towns landscape, the disgusting amount of money it is costing is nothing short of a disgrace, and then you have the audacity to show off the extravagant interior on Facebook, when there are families struggling to pay your thieving council tax. Let’s hope your illustrious leader, whoever he or she is, comes on here and apologises for this self indulgent, disgraceful post, shame on you EDDC!!!!!

The Knowle “Flog It” scandal rumbles on

Recent Freedom of Information request:

“Dear East Devon District Council,

The following is a request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Recently an email from a Conservative counsellor was released into the public domain regarding the purchase of a “very large table in the members room” as a result of “an auction of council furniture, chattels, etc” to the benefit of members and EDDC staff.

The email went on to state “I have been told that I have been successful in my bid so the table along with the 8’ extension is heading back to Exmouth to sit in (address of councillor), Exmouth in its rightful Town (some may say)” and then stated arrangements for its removal date in order that it could be used for the Councillor’s Christmas dinner for 22 family members.

Subsequently on 21st December 2018, the Leader of the Council made a statement about the disposal of a range of items, including this table. He said the large table “attracted little professional interest with one valuer estimate of just £50”.

I would like to know:

If one valuer’s estimate was £50, what were the other estimates?

What are the names of the valuers who gave estimates for the table?

Does EDDC audit not require a range and record of estimates for the disposal of council assets, as well as a record of disposals?

EDDC, like other councils, should have a written policy and procedure for the disposal of assets such as used equipment, furniture and other plant, What is that policy and procedure?

Who was the Councillor that successfully bid for “the very large table in the members room”?

How much did the Councillor pay?

Was the ornate clock on the mantel piece (as shown on the cover of the Residents Magazine, December 2018) part of this disposal process?

If so, what was the valuation given?

What price was paid?

Who bought this clock?

The Leader of the Council referred to proceeds of this sale and other sales going to the Chairman’s Civic Fund.

How much money was raised from this sale of “items of sentimental interest or practical use”?

What are the “other sales” Councillor Thomas refers to?

How much money was raised from each of these “other sales”?

What is the total now of the Chairman’s Civic Fund?

Information about the Chairman’s Civic Fund is not easily accessible on the EDDC website; a word search on the site produces “no result”. Where can details of this fund and its administration be found?

Yours faithfully,”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/auction_of_council_furniture_cha

Mahogany tables …..

Story moving to regional media – watch this space.

If any town or parish council or local charity WAS or WAS NOT contacted about this or any other item for sale, Owl would be VERY interested to hear details!

Allegedly sold to Councillor Philip Skinner when officers and councillors given first dibs at Knowle furniture surplus to requirements – 22 ft extending mahogany board room table (only bid):
£50

Meanwhile on E-bay bay today:

Buy it now price
£12,000 mahogany board room table
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Very-Large-Antique-Library-Table-Mahogany-Victorian-Boardroom-c-1870/323604161547

Buy it now price
Modern plain wooden board room table, well-used 7 m
£600
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Boardroom-table-meeting-table-wood-1-5m-7m/401613530214?hash=item5d82082466:g:DzYAAOSwPR9bu0La

That Knowle table … sold for £50?

Oh, er – been kicking off on Facebook page!

22 foot mahogany table with 8 foot extension (not sure if included in 22 foot or makes it 30 foot, but probably the latter). Rumour is it was “valued” and was sold for a winning bid of £50 (fifty pounds).

Most councils have a policy on this. Anyone seen East Devon”s?

Plundering of Knowle assets by councillors? Best value?

It appears that councillors and officers have been given first dibs of Knowle assets, in advance of the move to Honiton and one of them has rather jumped the gun on claiming his prize.

Is this best value or equitable, Owl ponders? As does at least one independent councillor.

Note: Neither of these emails were marked private and/or confidential when acquired by Owl.

From a well-known Conservative councillor:

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

Dear Members and SMT,

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

You will all be aware there has been an auction of council furniture, chattels etc of which I bid for a few bits and pieces.

I bid on behalf of my partner for the very large table in the members area along with the 20 green chairs that we all sit around.

I have been told that I have been successful in my bid so the table along with the 8’ extension is heading back to Exmouth to sit in (address of councillor), Exmouth in its rightful Town (some may say).

The relevance of my informing yourselves is that the rightful date of removal is end of January/ beginning of February when we finally ‘pull out of the Knowle.

I would apologise for the short notice but we have 22 family members to Christmas dinner and would like to pick the table up tomorrow as it appears it is the last day of our offices being open, which of course would mean I couldn’t collect it on Monday, 24th, as we will be closed.

We do have one or two meetings between the New Year and our final pull out but I feel it only right to ask members if indeed anybody felt offended if it was collected tomorrow on our last day.

I will fully respect any position any member may feel regarding it being removed earlier and would kindly request your thoughts.

If indeed it were removed earlier I have spoken to Simon Allchurch who feels we could put a few of the red tables on wheels in the place of the table and there is an array of chairs to use for members in the interim so it doesn’t look bare.

I must again apologise for the short notice but with the closing date being the 19th and all that goes with it at this time of year I would like to think you may grant me a little latitude (or not).

Best wishes and a Happy Xmas to one and all.”

And here is the response from an Independent councillor

“I feel I must reiterate my comment from when this started. Who authorised the ‘private sale’ of Council property to staff and members? Why are we not duty-bound to seek the best price at public auction? No-one answered my questions.

Will we ever know the proceeds of this internal sale for the public record?”

I strongly suspect that members of the public would be shocked to know that councillors have been able to buy items in this way. It is somehow appropriate that 22 family members will sit down to feast at this table, assuming the removal goes ahead.”

EDDC HQ builder deeper in the mire – just who does privatisation work for?

With a government paralysed by Brexit does anyone care what is happening to yet another privatised company that will cost tax payers dear if (or rather when) it goes under? Imagine how many local companies could have built that HQ!

“… Interserve is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers in areas such as office-cleaning, while it also provides support to Britain’s armed forces in Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.”

https://news.sky.com/story/struggling-interserve-may-hand-construction-unit-to-lenders-11581667

EDDC HQ contractor’s shares plunge to 6p – in 2014 they were worth 700p!

Perhaps using local companies would have been less risky!

“The crisis surrounding outsourcing firm Interserve intensified on Monday as its shares lost more than 75% of their value, crashing to just 6p, as the government contractor battles to negotiate its second rescue deal this year.

The heavily indebted group, which has thousands of government contracts such as cleaning hospitals and serving school meals, said the rescue plan would mean substantial losses for shareholders as the banks that have lent Interserve more than £600m take control of the company. It hopes to wrap up a deal early next year.

Interserve’s shares plunged to 6p in early trading, giving it a market value of less than £9m. At its peak in 2014, the shares were worth more than 700p….”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/10/interserve-shares-rescue-plan-carillion