SOME people with boats in Mumbles haven’t paid fees to Swansea Council for a decade, but the situation is now being rectified.
Spot checks of boats kept out of the water at Knab Rock, Village Lane and Southend revealed the discrepancy, the council’s audit committee was told.
The report before the committee said the spot checks unearthed a significant number of unknown boat owners, and also owners who were known but hadn’t paid for years.
The Village Lane site had boat parking arrears going back the furthest – about 10 years.
The report said previous audits had identified the unknown owner issue but no action had been taken.
Speaking at the meeting on January 29, cultural services manager Jamie Rewbridge said the responsibility for managing boat parking was being moved from his section to another council department at the time of the audit. He said boat storage in Mumbles was a historic issue because of the open character of the sites, and that there had been issues in the past with the council removing illegally parked boats and then being challenged for costs by the owners.
Councillor Mike White asked if the council had a means of knowing who all of the boat owners were, and what the legal position was in terms of clawing money back. “If this was somebody’s private business, they would probably have gone bust by now,” he said.
Mr Rewbridge said a database had now been set up with this purpose in mind, that photos have been taken of all of the boats at the Mumbles sites, and notices had been placed there requesting owners get in touch – or potentially face having their craft auctioned or disposed of after three months. He added that 45 invoices – some backdated – had been raised this month totalling £6,000, but it was expected that some owners might query them.
A separate internal review of the council’s cleansing service found it was not possible to confirm that all staff timesheets had been approved by an authorised boss due to the absence of an up-to-date authorised signatory list.
However a spot check of hours worked and overtime rates paid during three particular months proved satisfactory.
Jeremy Davies, cleansing and parks group leader, said all of the recommendations arising from the review mainly to do with training had been actioned. He said he had joined the service in November 2018, following a period of several months in which cleansing was without leadership due to his predecessor being off on long-term sickness absence.
Councillor Peter Black said he was concerned that alternative leadership arrangements were not made during this period.
Commitee chairwoman and lay member Paula O’Connor said: “I totally agree.”
The cleansing service, said Mr Davies, has 11 agency staff covering vacancies – and a workforce of 96 operatives, plus six supervisors. The parks section has about 200 staff.
Referring to the implementation of the audit recommendations, Mr Davies said: “I am confident that we are in a much more strong position now.”