More than two million pounds lost to Iceland banks(July 18, 2009)
OFFICIALS at County Hall have revealed that they will be getting back about £10.2 million of the £12 million at risk in Icelandic banks.
The money will start to trickle home this year and should be back in the county treasurer’s department of Wiltshire Council by 2012.
If lost interest is taken into account then the actual loss to the council’s various budgets will be well in excess of £2million.
“The news is welcome but hardly a triumph,” said Steve Dancey, who was closely involved in the budget setting at County Hall between 1990 and 1993.
“Around £8 million was risked as a result of decisions taken by the old county council while North Wilts District risked £4 million.”
Other counties such as Dorset and Somerset each have £25 million invested in Iceland.
So why have some counties come a cropper while others such as Hampshire not been involved?
“I don’t blame the local councillors involved but rather the Government for setting up this stupid cabinet system in local councils which was brought in in 2001 to speed things up and make things more transparent,” added Steve.
“It meant that too much power was given to often inexperienced individuals and scrutiny doesn’t work well everywhere.
“When I was on the council the extremely well-informed finance committee would have looked at these matters.
“On that committee you had Conservatives Prof Alfred Ilersic (former chair of economics at LSE), Robert Syms (now MP for Poole), Peter Chalke (a long established owner of a Salisbury manufacturing business) and Andrew Christie-Miller (large landowner and chairman of SCATS).
“For the Lib Dems there was Jack Ainslie (who ran a huge farming business) and Jane Mactaggart (academic economist and sister of current Labour minister Fiona Mactaggart) as well as Labour’s Mary Salisbury who had 40 years’ experience of local government.
“There’s no guarantee that they wouldn’t have invested in Icelandic banks but most of the names mentioned didn’t blindly follow officers’ recommendations as seems to be the case today.”