KCC deputy leader faces probe over chauffeured cars
The deputy leader of Kent County Council is facing the prospect
of an investigation by the authority's standards watchdog into his
use of chauffeur-driven cars and private taxis.
The county council's standards committee has been referred a
complaint about Cllr Alex King (Con) and has been asked to consider
if there is a case to answer about his use of the vehicles.
The standards committee was sent a complaint several months ago,
but has been awaiting the outcome of an independent auditor's
investigation into concerns that county councillors, including Mr
King, had made unlawful and duplicate claims for travel
The investigation by the district auditor upheld the
complaint, but said only a small number of duplicate claims had
been made and the money - totalling about £480 - had since been
repaid by Mr King and others.
He also said he accepted KCC's explanation that the mistakes
were down to administrative errors.
However, the standards committee has not yet considered the
report as it has not been officially published and will have to
decide if there are any grounds on which the complaint should be
In his first public comments on the issue, Mr King told a
committee meeting yesterday the report had not found any
"Nobody could read into the external auditor's report any
suggestion that members have acted improperly, inappropriately or
illegally. We are not on the fiddle and this report proves that,"
he told a meeting of KCC's members' services committee.
The amount of money involved represented a fraction of the
overall sum paid to all county councillors, he added.
However, sources said the standards committee will want to
consider if there are other aspects of the saga that warrant a
probe, including Mr King's use of chauffeur-driven cars and taxis
to a string of meetings at a private members' in London.
The district auditor
said he accepted Mr King's explanation these meetings were
connected with council business and there was no evidence to
Meanwhile, the leader of the county council has said it would be
a "retrograde step" if county councillors were not permitted to
occassionally use the authority's four chauffeur-driven cars for
private purposes where they were being used for official
The county council recently stopped the practice because of a
question mark over whether it was permitted and because of the
growing Press attention.
Cllr Paul Carter has reimbursed the authority £600 under
arrangements he set up to cover the costs of KCC cars stopping off
at his business premises to and from trips to London on official
But he urged councillors to think twice about banning the
practice when it reviewed the arrangements. "I think it would be a
retrograde step," he told the committee.
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