May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Amie Keeley
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
CALLS have been made for a fresh inquiry into why public money was used on a flood survey report which included recommendations for a council leader’s own home.
The request has been made after it emerged Tendring District Council (TDC) leader Neil Stock used £5,800, allocated for community projects, on a hydrological study for Ardleigh and Little Bromley.
The report included ground water level tests and recommendations at his house in Shop Road, but Mr Stock has always maintained he never intended for his home to be looked at specifically and flooding is a major problem for residents in his ward.
Last night, the leader of the opposition, Ivan Henderson, says the report should never have been allowed to go ahead and has requested TDC to carry out a full investigation.
It comes after new e-mails between Mr Stock and TDC’s head of public experience seen by the East Anglian Daily Times - emerged showing disagreements over how the flood survey was carried out.
Mr Stock said he asked for a full hydrological study of the district and questioned why the report focused on his home.
But the officer said his home was the only known property to suffer from flooding internally and Mr Stock had agreed the scope of the study to include Shop Road.
Mr Henderson said: “The question he has to ask himself is why, if he didn’t expect his house to be included, did he not say “no” when the engineers came to his home. Alarm bells should have rung then.
“When I went to the district auditor about this he didn’t have all the details about how the report was put together which I have now obtained these under a Freedom of Information request.
“I still believe there are more questions to be answered by Cllr Stock and council officers about why this scheme was allowed to go ahead in such a way when that money was meant to be for community benefit.”
But Cllr Stock said tax payers’ money should not be used on a politically motivated inquiry and said the district auditor had not found any evidence of wrong doing.
He said: “If Labour want an inquiry then they should go ahead and pay for one. Tax payers’ money should not be used on investigations to attack Tory councillors.
“Labour complained to the district auditor who found no cause to answer and time and time again our officers have been praised for how our council finances are managed.
“Any levels that were taken around my home I would assume were being done at all the properties in the area,
“The idea that I have somehow benefited from this leaves me speechless - why would I want a flood report which actually devalues my home?
“This is Labour stirring up trouble and I despise it to be honest.”
Mr Stock announced last week that he will be stepping down as leader of the council.
“The flooding issue is something I will continue to fight for as a backbencher,” he added.
A spokesman for TDC said: “An allegation of misuse of public funds has previously been made to the District Auditor and his position on this matter is that he has looked into this hydrological study and, on the basis of his enquiries to date, has decided to take no further action.”