In the run up to the local elections of 2021, a political follower has uncovered a potentially big issue. The payments from Tunbridge Wells council have been discovered which cannot initially be explained.
The payments, which date back to May 2019 show various sums being paid to A-Hall Management Consultants. The latest payment of £1,690 was made in November 2020. In total there has been over £40,000 paid to these consultants.
Now we know that A-Hall refers to Assembly Hall, which is where Tunbridge Wells council are based. The other clue is that the first payment refers to a ‘pantomime’, so it would appear these consultants fees are linked to the towns annual pantomime. Are these consultants in charge of arranging the pantomime? We do not know as the report shows that any other useful information has been ‘redacted under the Data Protection Act’. Why all the secrecy Tunbridge Wells?
The unconfirmed rumour is that the husband of a senior member of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council staff is receiving payments as a ‘consultant’ and has been for a long time.
There is a conflicts of interest register that every council officer needs to complete and keep up to date, which would reveal the answer to this question.
After investigation by another local councillor, they have not been able to obtain the answer due to GDPR regulations. What is the point of having a ‘conflicts of interest’ register if no-one is able to view it because of data protection rules?
Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. By law, all members of the Council are required to complete a declaration of interest form, the details of which are published annually on their individual web pages.
After a quick inspection on the register of interests pages, there is one councillor who is married to a Director of a consultancy company, which looks like it specialises in IT work, although the company address is listed as their home address. Another councilor is married to a photographic shop owner. Could these consultancy fees be for photo and video work at the pantomime? Could one of these be the missing link or are they just a co-incidence?
Now this arrangement may be perfectly above board and legal, but would a bit of transparency go a long way to build trust in our councillors? Surely taxpayers should know where their hard-earned taxes are being used? It would be useful to know what company is working as a paid consultant for the council or could it just an individual who is using a consultancy name to cover their tracks? Please inform us if you know more…