Police called in at South Somerset
On 13 December The Leveller® broke the story of corruption at South Somerset District Council on Leveller.live. Last month The Leveller paper followed with a 7 page exclusive investigation. We have now learned that more investigations into the authority are ongoing.
SSDC did not move to make anything public for 3 weeks after their internal investigations concluded. So when The Leveller published on 13 December, they rushed a statement out the following day. We now learn that on 16 December, 3 days after our report, more action followed. CEO Jane Portman announced at the SSDC full council meeting that matters had been reported to the Police. This was reported in confidential session so was not immediately apparent.
We have contacted the Police who confirmed they logged the complaint on 27 December. So a full blown Police investigation should be ongoing as we speak. Ms Portman also confirmed that copies of the investigations into corruption at SSDC had been handed to the Police. The two main reports are that compiled by audit firm SWAP and the other by an experienced investigator, Richard Penn. To help the Police with their enquiries.
Among the items that the Police will be looking into, no doubt, is this claim in the Investigators’ Report: “a number of Environmental Services staff also work as private individuals… the former SSDC Monitoring Officer, had advised her that he had used them and paid them in cash himself and that they were very good workers. She was also informed that the former SSDC S151 Officer and the former Council Leader as well as many other elected members and staff
have done the same.”
If true, one interpretation would be that public officials had encouraged employees of a public body to evade paying tax.
That will also be interesting to the tax authorities, HMRC. As we promised last month, The Leveller® has passed papers in our possession to HMRC. They have acknowledged receipt and confirmed they always investigate allegations of tax evasion.
Finally we understand that at the February meeting of SSDC full council the Leader of the Council will face a vote of no confidence. That may or may not be connected to the fact the meeting has been moved back 11 days to 28 February.
Congratulations on your tireless work to bring all this out into the open. It is clear that some of our elected councillors and staff have a long history of a casual disregard of the law and professional standards and requirements, not to mention the Nolan principles of standards in public life. The list of problems is huge and includes IT issues, failures to collect monies due and flagrant disregard of s106 orders, lack of enforcement in many areas, (including planning and nuisance), inappropriate investments and a ‘transformation’ programme which has clearly failed. No one takes responsibility and complaints are ignored. The police should investigate every aspect of this dreadful Council.
Good work! Lovely piece of journalism.
This is only Our Council, which is bad enough ! Makes one wonder how many others it may be happening in ? Needs investigation to get rid of the corruption !
So now certain councilors and staff have four weeks to get their affairs in order, cover their backsides and issue the mandatory “I knew nothing statements” but hey what a deal they are on, because they can just churn another month of pay and expenses. Well done the editor ,but I expect the useless and corrupt will just get a slap on the wrist with ‘ don’t do it again’ edit from on high because ……oh dear…..sigh…everybody is at it.
Very interested in speaking with someone about information I have…
Many congratulations to the editor and reporters of the Leveller in exposing the toxic culture and criminal behaviours of some councillors and staff in the SSDC.
As an investigator for 40 years this has the stink of endemic corruption about it. This must be investigated and exposed before corrupted councillors and staff with no integrity transfer to the new Somerset Council.
I have no doubt you will have further revelations to come. My grateful thanks.
What a shower of shit they are