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Government slams Development Corporation over payments
7:00am Wednesday 9th October 2013 in News
STAFF working for the now defunct Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation were sent for patchwork, pottery and jewellery making lessons – all at the taxpayers’ expense, a Government investigation has revealed this week.
A probe into the DC was launched after “irregular payments” came to light, with redundancy documents not issued “in good time”.
The investigation also found corporation staff were given unnecessary payments and now the Government is supporting legal action against the corporation’s former chief executive Niall Lindsay and director of resources Sean O’Donnell for payments in lieu of notice to them amounting to £117,073.
The DC, set up to drive through housing and infrastructure projects, folded last March before closing in October. Its functions were absorbed by Thurrock Council.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who sits on the public accounts committee that flagged up the discrepencies, called the misuse of taxpayers’ money “totally unacceptable”.
And in a written ministerial statement, Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: “A departmental investigation has identified spending on items including training for former staff in patchwork, pottery and jewellery making, the purchase of software and associated training 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 notice periods to staff.
“The department is now supporting Thurrock Council in legal action to recover funds from the former chief executive and director of resources to protect taxpayers’ interests.”
Ms Doyle-Price added: “This confirms there was misuse of taxpayers’ money during the dissolution of the DC. This is totally unacceptable.
“All public servants should be conscious they have a duty to use taxpayer’s money wisely. I am pleased the Government is taking steps to recover these funds and that Thurrock Council is assisting them to do so.
“I have zero tolerance of waste and misuse of public money and I am pleased this view is shared by this Government.”
A Thurrock Council spokesman said the authority welcomed the ministerial statement.
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