Here is a letter about TransEuropa Ferries which I sent to the Thanet Gazette. I appreciate they don't have space to print everything but I thought you might like to see it.
Dear EditorCouncillor Rick Everitt writes (Gazette Letters October 18th) “For avoidance of doubt, I was never party to any deal with Transeuropa at any time”. The Chief Executive of Thanet District Council contradicts this claim. In a report dated 7 October 2013 she wrote “On 18th January 2012 Mark Seed (Ramsgate Port Boss) provided (the Labour Cabinet of which Councillor Everitt was, and still is, a member) an update on the TEF (Transeuropa) position, and a discussion was held around options to deal with the debt and of the reporting of it”. Cleary for the Council’s most senior executive body – the Cabinet – to hold discussions about debt options makes that body and it members, including Councillor Everitt, “party to a deal” with Transeuropa.
In the same report the Chief Executive wrote “Throughout the negotiations, the course of action with regards to the management of the debt was shared with the Cabinet Leader (Councillor Hart) and the Finance Portfolio holder (Councillor Everitt)”. The report then identifies a series of complex negotiations with Transeuropa Ferries in 2012, including efforts to draw up a formal debt repayment agreement. These negotiations and agreements would have been “shared” with Councillors Hart and Everitt who would have provided senior managers with a political steer on what to do. This process clearly makes Councillors Hart and Everitt party to the Transeuropa debt deal.
Councillor Everitt also claims in his letter that Labour Councillors were briefed about the Transeuropa debt “when they took minority control of the Council in December 2011”. I was a Labour Councillor at this time and can tell your readers categorically that Labour Councillors were never briefed about the debt in December 2011. On the contrary, like the previous Tory Cabinet, the Labour Cabinet chose to keep the Transeuropa debt secret from their backbench councillors. The first inkling backbench councillors had that Transeuropa owed the Council £3.4 million was when the Chief Executive was forced to reveal this information when the company went into liquidation in May 2013.
Finally, despite repeatedly refusing to answer my questions about the nature of the deal with Transeuropa Ferries, the Chief Executive’s report of 7 October reveals the astonishing fact that the Council has never had a written debt deferral agreement with this company. Surely to allow a debt to escalate to £3.4 million over a 3 year period without having a written agreement in place is an act of incompetence and irresponsibility of the first order which merits an independent investigation. Perhaps this explains why the Council was unable to claim a share of the 750,000 euros raised by the auctioning of the Ferry Gardenia last month?
I have said it many times before, but I am extremely disappointed and angry by how senior Thanet Council managers and political leaders have failed to be open, honest and transparent with the people of Thanet about the £3.4 million Transeuropa debt scandal.
Councillor Ian Driver