This week’s Cabinet meeting saw the latest development in the financial saga of council-owed Medway Commercial Group (MCG), as the Conservative Group voted to award a loan to the company of an undisclosed figure.
The loan comes amidst the Commercial Group being subject to an ongoing police investigation with a dedicated resource group, following an internal investigation into MCG which highlighted a projected £1 million loss. At lease one employee has been suspended from MCG duties whilst the investigation is being carried out.
Medway Commercial Group’s reputation has remained questionable over the past few years, with numerous incidents raising questions regarding the financial competence of the company;
- In September 2018, the commercial group received a project management contract to develop a new £25m independent school with SEN provisions at Cornwallis. Medway Labour Group proposed a ‘call-in motion’, urging the council to strip the company of its contract due to fundamental inexperience managing a project of this size. Whilst the motion was rejected by the Conservative Group, the Cabinet did eventually strip the commercial group of its duties just months later.
- October 2018 saw the commercial group receive cross-party criticism from Councillors regarding the disrepair of CCTV cameras, managed by MCG. It was found that 80% of Medway Council’s CCTV cameras in Gillingham High Street were beyond repair, supposedly totalling £630,000 in maintenance costs all within MCG’s remit.
- In July 2020, Medway Labour Group called on the Council to justify its extraordinary payment of £300,000 to MCG for social worker agency recruitment fees.
Vince Maple, Leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group, said that, ‘Once again Medway Council is bailing out MCG. We have seen on more than one occasion this council pick up the pieces.
‘The Cabinet are doing their best to distance themselves from the disastrous reputation of MCG, but awarding loans of figures undisclosed to the public raises some serious concern.
‘The public deserve answers, and when this police investigation finally reports, I suspect that there will be many serious questions for individuals to answer.’