Further to your coverage of the E11 Business Improvement District (BID) Company’s collapse (‘Row erupts over debts of improvement firm’ Guardian, November 7, 2013), newly available information makes the situation appear even more troubling.
For the council has now admitted under the Freedom of Information Act that though it gave the E11 BID Co several hundred thousand pounds of public money over the years, it cannot now produce any contract documents for these sums, any due diligence material, or any information about outputs. And as for the Waltham Forest Business Board, which was supposed to supervise the E11 BID Co, the insouciance is exactly the same: large sums of public money were handed over, but the council again cannot produce anything about the legals or what was achieved.
In the past decade I have chaired several local charities which received Council grants. In every case, I have been required to sign a contract (sometimes many pages in length, with a host of potentially punitive clauses), submit copious due diligence material, and then report on outputs (providing full supporting evidence). Like many other people in the third sector, I accepted that, though onerous on all parties (including of course council officers) such conditions were necessary to prevent fraud and ensure that public money was spent as intended.
Is there one rule for the council’s business friends and confidants, and another for the rest of us?
Nick Tiratsoo, Odessa Road, Leytonstone.