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Quango's pottery classes on the taxpayer
6:00am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
WORKERS at a south Essex development quango were sent for patchwork, pottery and jewellery-making lessons at the taxpayers’ expense, a Government investigation has found.
The corporation was set up in 2005 and shut down last year by the Government.
Communities minister Brandon Lewis said there had been “irregular payments” in lieu of notice, because redundancy documents were not issued “in good time” when the organisation was given six months to close.
The Government is now backing a legal action against former chief executive Niall Lindsay and director of resources Sean O'Donnell for payments in lieu of notice, amounting to £117,073.
Mr Lewis said the Department for Communities and Local Government was taking steps “to protect taxpayers’ interests and ensure probity in the spending of public money” following the investigation.
In a written ministerial statement, he said: “It has come to the department’s attention correct procedures were not followed by the corporation, resulting in irregular payments being made during the closure process.
“A departmental investigation has identified spending on items including training for former staff in patchwork, pottery and jewellery-making, the purchase of software and associated training for personal use by a senior executive of the closing body, and payment in lieu of notice when this could have been avoided through timely issuing of notice periods to staff.
“The department is now supporting Thurrock Council in legal action to recover funds from the former chief executive and director of resources to protect taxpayers’ interests.
“I hope this sends out a strong signal about our zero tolerance towards wasting public money.”
The corporation has been closed and its functions transferred to Thurrock Council.
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