FOI request reveals four council directors have corporate credit cards

SCOTTISH Borders Council’s former chief executive David Hume, who retired this week aged 58, was not the only senior official at Newtown to have a corporate credit card, writes Andrew Keddie.

Indeed, a Freedom of Information response has revealed that the directors of four departments – education (Glenn Rodger), social work (Andrew Lowe), resources (Tracey Logan) and environment and infrastructure (Rob Dickson) – all have cards.

It follows an FoI request from Hawick councillor David Paterson (Independent) after last week’s revelation in TheSouthern that Mr Hume’s departmental credit card had been used for transactions worth £9,000 over the last three full financial years. Purchases ranged from a £9 mobile phone cover to a £194 overnight stay at a London hotel and included a meal for three and accommodation at Burt’s Hotel in Melrose.

The spending was not included in the £123,000 in salary and allowances which Mr Hume received in 2010/11.

“I was rather taken aback at some of the transactions by someone on such a large salary, but my main concern was that elected members played no part in sanctioning the use of the credit card,” said Mr Paterson this week.

On Thursday, he filed an emailed FoI request, asking what limit was on Mr Hume’s card and how many other SBC officers have or have had a corporate credit card over the past four years. The following day it was confirmed that the limit on the chief executive’s card was £5,000 and that the four other cards, for the directors and their departments, “increased efficiency in payment processing”.

Mr Paterson has now asked how much has been spent on the four directors’ cards and if they, like Mr Hume, were subject to a spending limit.

“I await a reply, but I feel it cannot be right that, as an elected member, I have to make an FoI request to get this information.

“I am not suggesting any wrongdoing, but I believe councillors and their constituents have a right to know how public money is being spent at SBC.”