Cornwall Council Debit Cards – A Clearer Picture?

There might be light at the end of the tunnel on the whole debit (formally known as credit) card fiasco. The details in the Telegraph article were breath-taking and there no getting away from the fact it made people angry.
However, a few days later there is now some clarity emerging on these published figures. These figures might not be ‘as bad’ as first thought. In fact, it seems a lot of figures listed in the Telegraph are completely wrong because they are still in the native currency and/or the cost was met by someone else. All these are perfectly good reason. I am also not saying that there are no worrying/wrong/excessive areas, and if there is, these will soon come to light. It is just a shame that the right figures were not sent out in the first place.

I was further invited by the Head of Corporate Resources to ask any question on any item listed. I picked a selection from the list and here are those questions and answers.
Answered: 

Hotel Anna (29 May 2010) listed cost: £33,090 Real cost: £105.10
Response:  This payment relates to a meeting in Hungary about the Resgen project (Research Infrastructure to Sustainable Energy and Reduction of Co2 emissions).  This is a totally European funded project and so the costs were not met by the Council. The costs shown have not been converted from the original currency of Hungarian Forint and the correct amount is £105.10  
Hotel Matus (27 May 2010) listed cost: £16,698 Real costs: £53.14
Response: This payment relates to a meeting in Hungary about the Resgen project (Research Infrastructure to Sustainable Energy and Reduction of Co2 emissions).  This is a totally European funded project and so the costs were not met by the Council. The costs shown have not been converted from the original currency of Hungarian Forint and the correct amount is £53.14

Radisson SAS (Jan 10) listed cost: £4,880 Real Cost: £546.56
Response: This payment relates to the attendance at a meeting of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Meetings in Norway which was attended by Carolyn Rule and a member of the Council’s Economic Development service.  The costs shown have not been converted from the original currency of Norwegian Kroner and the correct amount should be £546.56

Sailors Arms (17 Feb 2009) listed cost: £750 
Response: This payment relates to an event run by the Youth Service as part of their ‘Positive Activities for Young People’ project. It was funded through external grants and not by the Council


Hotel Opera (Jan 2009) listed cost: £60,327 Real Cost £204.41
This project is grant funded, not core costs. This was not converted from 60327 HUF, actual cost £204.41. 

This relates to hotel costs for an officer attending a Regions for Sustainable Change meeting.
Hotel Lorensberg (3 Oct 09) listed cost: £6,380 Real Cost £599.46.
This was not converted from krona, and this relates to hotel costs for 2 people attending the C.P.M.R. General Assembly. The C.P.M.R. is Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions


Holiday Inn (7 Oct 2009) listed cost: £1,372.51
This relates to Hotel (Holiday Inn) costs for 5 people attending European Week of Regions and Cities Open Days in Brussels. No currency error here. 


Various invoices for NQ cafe (16 March 10) listed cost: £1366.89
This relates to payments made on behalf of Newquay Children’s Centre to purchase stock for resale in their café – NQ Café.


DS Lite (Game Digital) listed cost: £999.90
This expenditure was covered by external funding. The purchase was made in line with the E-Guide training which one of the Family Learning staff had undergone and she was eligible for a grant to purchase this and other items of equipment.  Family Learning is part of Adult Education and work with parents of young children to teach them to be able to understand and help their offspring with technology.


Ritazza Cafe (21 Jan 09) listed cost: £3,165 Real Costs £10.73
This project is grant funded not core costs. This was not converted from 3165 HUF. This payment relates to subsistence costs associated with attending Regions for Sustainable Change Project

There you have it, all my questions answers. As you can see most are down to errors on the currency exchange and not people having a ‘good old time’ at the tax payers expense. 



4 comments

  • Simon

    Blimey – That really is a balls up, makes you worry about the accuracy of the whole budget.

  • Anonymous

    The Information Officer should have ensured (double-checked) that all matters were correctly converted before disclosing. What was the number of hours taken to process this request under FOI Act? If it exceeded the Fees Regs was a Fee Notice served and if so what was the charge to process this request?

  • Anonymous

    OK but what about the nearly £3,000 on an away day for a few directorate staff from communties at a hotel in Newquay. Sorry, but there is still one almighty cover up going on.

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    Last anon,

    Could you drop me an email or text giving details please? I will then inquire

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