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How can payments be justified?

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

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Comment on Scrutiny into council credt card bill from above

Dear Mr Peter Martin,

We don't want to fall out.

We fear news that your staff at County Hall spent £5,136,145 on corporate charge cards in 27 months is coming between us.

It shouldn't.

Our role, surely, is to probe council finances on behalf of the taxpayer.

In anticipation of our face-to-face chat, here are some of the points we feel need explaining to give you some time to prepare.

We are not saying staff spending £340,000 of taxpayer's money in Tesco, £3,800 in nightclubs, and £372 at a Chelmsford noodle bar is wrong – just that it needs explanation.

This week we have been offered some enlightenment by your council.

You claim £2.1m of the money spent on purchase cards was for children's services and a further £1.6m was for fees in court proceedings for children in care.

Is it normal to be spending that much on court fees?

That of course still leaves £1.4 million and hardly quashes public fears that money is being wasted on quirky frivolities.

Remember the £35 spent on one child's haircut? Or the £17.50 spent in La Senza?

What about the £840 on historic weaponry from a firm in Derbyshire?

How can these be justified?

So, and in the spirit of reconciliation, we renew our calls for a detailed breakdown of this spend.

Then, we think, we might just get along.

Yours sincerely, on behalf of Essex Chronicle readers

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