Investigation into why council paid for street lamp work which was not done
Town Hall says it has strengthened its payment system
30 October, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Lanterns in the street lamp replacement programme
AN investigation was launched at the Town Hall after a whistleblower revealed the council paid out tens of thousands of pounds to a contractor for work that had not been done.
A Camden insider raised questions about why street lamp replacement work had not happened – seven weeks after invoices had been paid. Council policy is to pay for work only after it has been completed. The insider told the New Journal: “What has clearly happened here is Camden’s contractor was paid in advance for works that were not even started.
The contractor invoiced Camden and nobody appears to have checked to see that the works were complete.” It has raised concerns about whether the Town Hall, and particular its engineering services department, has the resources to check whether work it is paying for has been carried out. “Is the London borough of Camden so under-resourced staff-wise that they can no longer check works and therefore just pay contractors?” the insider asked.
Responding to the whistleblower’s concerns – through the Town Hall’s whistleblowing service website – officials admitted they had “found that works… had not been done”, adding: “As a result the monies paid for this work were credited back to the council by the contractor and the works then completed.”
The response said that an investigation was ongoing. In 2016, Camden announced a four-year, public realm maintenance and improvement contract with VolkerHighways. With a value of £12million a year, the contract covers highways and lighting maintenance services across the borough until 2020. A
Camden Council spokesman said: “A number of allegations were raised relating to a contract between the council and VolkerHighways. An internal investigation found that works relating to two orders that the council had paid for had yet to be completed. The council has a two-stage process to ensure that all street works have been completed. As soon as it was identified that this was not the case, the money paid for this work was promptly credited back to the council by VolkerHighways and the works are now being completed. The council have now strengthened this two-stage process.”
He added: “The investigation discovered no evidence to suggest that anyone within the council benefited, or was to benefit, financially because of the error. “The council cannot comment on any ongoing investigations, so as not to prejudice the processes.”