It was reported last week that North Somerset Council invested £3 million two months after it had been warned that Landsbanki was not on sound financial footing. Yes, afterwards.
You may think this is inexcusable, but NSC would like you to think again. Finance Director Phil Hall keeps saying that they were just following orders, trying to get the highest possible return for their investment. Now, we have written at length here and elsewhere that when taxpayers' money is at stake, safety must always be top priority.
You would have thought that this would be self evident, particularly to a finance director. But as it apparently wasn't, in order to reassure his public and no doubt try and guarantee his woefully undeserved bonus at the end of this financial year, Mr Hall has come up with a list of things he plans to do in order to Never Let This Happen Again.
The six point plan includes such beauties as upgrading the required credit rating for council investments, retain a limit of £7 million invested in any one institution and investing only in UK institutions in the coming financial year.
These all sound alarmingly like common sense to me. The above recommendations bring to mind stable doors and horses, and this is yet another example of just why we (and many people around the country) are so angry about the amount of money pocketed every year by Finance Directors of dubious quality.
Of course, whenever we question the remuneration packages received by these directors, we are told that "you have to pay the best to get the best".
If the people who invested taxpayers' money in a financial institution, nay a country, on the verge of economic collapse are the best there is, we would frankly be better off without them. A bit of common sense and caution when it comes to allocating public money would be a nice change. And if there's money left over? Give it back, or invest it in frontline public services - that, Mr Hall, would have been the 'best' option.