Exposed: Massive spending on council credit cards

We’ve released three years of credit card spending data by the Isle of Wight council.

We’ve gathered all of the money spent by Isle of Wight council on credit cards over three years starting in 2008 and is publishing the full details today.

Credit CardThe sums spent on the cards by council officers and councillors are huge – over £2 million pounds in less than three years.

It’s a project that we’ve been working on with WightGeek for quite a while and with the Public Accounts Committee releasing their report today into ‘Government Procurement Card’ (credit card equivalents) and media reports of their ‘abuse’ circulating, we thought it was an ideal occasion to reveal all of the Isle of Wight data in a new version of Armchair Auditor to you today.

Have a delve through the data
As you might expect, we’ve got a number of stories coming up highlighting parts of the expenditure of the close-to 35,000 card transactions – an average of about 50 transactions on every one of those working days over those three years.

It’s worth pointing out that many, if not all of these payment might have a perfectly reasonable explanation, but the data that the council chose to provided to us only shows what you can see on Armchair Auditor, missing the details that it’s highly likely are held in their SAP accounting system.

Commenting is easy
In the meantime, please go on to the site and look over the data. You are able to put your own comments on each of the Merchants and transactions, so if you find anything that you think unusual, please share it with the rest of the Island.

Comments are welcome, as always.

Credit card spending on Armchair Auditor On The Wight

Update 09:05 2nd June: Added para explaining the council didn’t provide details of what purchases were for and our ‘spending might be legitimate’ approach when looking at the data, after ‘Concerned of IW’ prompted.

Friday, 1st June, 2012 3:32pm

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Filed under: Business, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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48 Comments on "Exposed: Massive spending on council credit cards"

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Man in Black

Ventnorblog you spoil us …. and on a long holiday weekend too!

Lars Torders

Lots of transactions at the Strand Palace Hotel. What on earth happens there concerning the IW?

daveq

Attending the Royal Courts of Justice?

hammerjammer

TV licensing £5273, wow!!!Priory Bay Hotel £12990!!! Luxury living eh! Isle of Wight council £2462 strange one, Gamestation????£2203 wonder what that was for?Zumba fitness £1372, Puppets by post (make your own joke) £1186, Mayflower Theatre £1149, cineworld £693, Haven’t got the will to trawl through any more. Thanks to our wonderful council for spending our money so considerately

Mike Starke

A very quick glance through a host of material raises questions over a large number of budget airline flights we paid for. plus hotel accommodation, notably a few stays (for whom, one wonders?) at the salubrious Strand Palace Hotel, London.

Perhaps County Hall can enlighten us after their Jubilee hols.

James P

I hope they pay them off every month, or there will be interest charges too. Why are they paying regular creditors like the Courts Service with credit cards in the first place?

Sheila Ferguson

Like MPs they should be made to pay it all back … with interest! Council tax payers should be reimbursed appropriately!

Amber

I’m more interested to know who stayed at the La Creole Beach for just over 3k! If you Google it, it apprears to be in Guadeloupe…..Island business??? Really???

daveq

No problem, it’s just a different island!

Penny

9p in Sainsburys? I didn’t know you could buy anything for 9p these days!!!!!!!!

econube

Gamestation (24 payments totalling £2,203)
Thorpe Park (5 payments totalling £2,120)
Mothercare (36 payments totalling £2,190)
Early Learning Centre (43 payments totalling £1,898)
Babyneeds (16 payments totalling £1,266)
http://Www.Kings Southsea.Com (2 payments totalling £1,883)

Island Line Ltd (452 payments totalling £25,234) but southern vectis doesn’t get a penny.

greenfiremouse

Maybe they bought SIM City at Gamestation for every Councillor for compulsory playing. After all, they might learn from that how to govern a community…??

Mr Justice

Mothercare/ EarlyLearning /Baby needs spending is likely to be social workers – emergency spending for children taken into care?

Some of the rest is inexcusable and possibly criminal?

On Wednesday morning someone should call the police. Some of this spending must be fraud?

County Girl

This is a bloody joke. There should be an enquiry over this. They should all be charged with embezzlement, named and shamed. They keep bringing the cuts and spending our money when they want on what they want. Absolutely fuming. Might go and get a job with the council so I can go on a spending spree and stay at luxury hotels!!

County Girl
18 Jan 10 Oil Payment??? £945??? They are mains gas or am I wrong? Why do they need oil?? 9 July 09 Happy Daze. £939 10 Sept 10 Busy Bee £900 1 May 09 Thorpe Park £898 1 May 09 Thorpe Park £830 20 May 09 Goodwood (really any need to go there)? 16 Mar 11 Kingswood Camp £672 http://www.kingswoodcamp.com/ 30 Jan 09 UKSA £643 27 June… Read more »
annie

At an average of £20 a head, that’s 26 people on one occasion. Certainly not a business luncheon, more like an office jolly.

James P

“Why do they need oil??”

To keep themselves slippery…

County Girl

Ok. I really don’t get the Creole Beach Hotel one.

It surely cant be… http://www.creolebeach.com/index-en.php

Total expenses http://armchairauditor.onthewight.com/merchants/la-creole-beach

I am really hoping there is somewhere on the Island called this, for the councils sake. Totaling £3,146 I really don’t think so though!!

County Girl

Do they have showers in the Council offices now??

National Shower spares £1,426

They should all be sacked. The lot of them!

Didn’t know they were a Dentist either…
CTS Dental Supplies £1,390

Scotties Fishing Tackle..now this is smelling fishy ;) £760

mosey

Yes, they do, have done for years. They also have them at leisure facilities. Don’t know why they would use a card to buy spares though. Don’t know about dental supplies or fishing tackle though; would be interested to know. I heard that all ‘procurement cards’ had recently been withdrawn. Anyone know if that’a true?

SueC
The point of the credit cards was to cut down on an expensive procurement process for relatively low cost items which in theory seems like a good idea. The spend includes all sorts of budgets, for example games station spends are likely to be kit bought for youth clubs and other youth projects. They have budgets for these and each youth club decides how to spend that… Read more »
hammerjammer

Sue, what about 13000 pounds at Priory Bay? Le creole beach £3000, and many more, are these for youth services too?

SueC

Hammerjammer, my intention was to share information on aspects of the spend that I knew about. If we pool knowledge then it sometimes helps. I think concerned of iow has provided a more comprehensive view. Thanks for that. Certainly worth delving into aspects not as yet clear.

County Girl

Ah! See your point! That explains the spends at Red House Spa total £435!! [Part of comment removed by moderator]

George M
Surprise surprise,shock,horror! A Tory dominated council has been abusing trust again,and ripping off Joe Public big time..I mean who would have thought that(sic)…Then again our Island MP likes to splash the cash as well,since Mr Turner was elected MP for the IOW he has flown a long way past a million quid in expenses claims,and it contiues to rise by about 8k a month……..We get Austerity and… Read more »
County Girl
They do get a free ride including Top Gear tickets at £100 in 2010 I don’t get how they can explain this. Is this really to do with work and expenses as well as the London Eye. Seems like they have been having holidays and not working to me with all the travel expenses. No wonder the ferry prices are so high, they go where they want!… Read more »
Retired hack

The Guadeloupe hotel was used on the occasion of the 2008 Island Games. I believe the IW contingent stayed there for one night on arrival. This is fairly easily researchable.

I’m as much against IW Council extravagence as the next person, but It’s best to make criticisms which will stick…

Tourist Guide

Is there not some sort of Ombudsman who can investigate and make them accountable for these ludicrous expenses?

concerned of IW
Thanks VB for uncovering this incredible scandal. Mind you on closer inspection how many of the trips away would have been school trips which would have been paid for by card but money recouped from parents? maybe you should subtract these from your totals. How many expenses are from youth centre equipment? Maybe you should subtract these from your totals. Island Games expenses? you didnt mind everyone… Read more »
steve s

Concerned,
Since you mention it, I’d be quite interested to know which of these expenses relate to the PFI. Closing down public amenities in order to fund an extraordinarily expensive ‘consultancy’ strikes me as something the public has a perfect right to question.

hammerjammer

Concerned, please explain to me how YOU justify £13,000 of our money being spent at Priory Bay. Surely there are cheaper alternatives to this lovely hotel. That’s me being a sycophant I suppose.

change the record
I wonder… does this include instances where a council employee may have used their council credit card for convenience and then paid the council back? Yes, im sure thats against the rules, but Im also sure it happens. A few people have mentioned Gamestation… do they sell computer mice and keyboards? maybe they are cheaper than anywhere else locally? maybe no-one is buying any games at all…… Read more »
Country Girl
@Concerned of IW How can you justify spending money at West Bay and Red House Spa? Also New Look as this is just a presumption but I am guessing the Council doesn’t buy its staff clothes for work but perhaps I am wrong? There are things on this list that do certainly look wrong and I am wondering if all receipts for this spending are accounted for?
JO YOUNG

WE THINK THERE SHOULD BE AN IMMEDIATE INQUIRY BY INDEPENDENT BODY TO ESTABLISH HOW MUCH OF THE SPENDING IS LEGAL THE VOTERS ON THE ISLAND HAVE A RIGHT TO BE MADE AWARE THE MATTER SHOULD “NOT” be glossed over

coolhead

I’m with ‘concerned’ on this- there’s a lot of shrieking about a scandal, but im struggling to see why. Look for unusual amounts or suppliers and ask the council what they are, sure, but to jump to conclusions about corruption and incompetence is a bit of a reach.

hammerjammer

So you are happy that the council have spent vast amounts of money on top hotels when they are making savage cuts to services? Priorities eh!!

Roger Hewitt

There is a Distict Auditor who’s job is to monitor council expenditure. It’s a little surprising that Armchair Auditor, VB and its contributors all seem unaware of this.

Roger Hewitt

The idea of a nation guided by Eric Pickles is too horrific to contemplate. I think you’ll find he’s on a learning curve. The auditor may not investigate individual items but he will be able to compare major categories. I thimk it would be good journalism to at least seek his comments on the matter. He cannot sanction improper expenditure.

alan t naylor

IN LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS WERE YOUR REPRESENTITIVE IS ELECTED BY A MERE 14 FOR AND 10 AGAINST IN SOME CASES ALL ABOVE DESERVE ALL YOU GET SORRY GO FIGGER PUT YOUR REAL NAME UP AND STAND UP TO BE COUNTED

Don Smith

I think the community charge payers need an audit to audit an audit. An independent one please!