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Diary: Council heads to the Orient in hunt for missing £20,000


If I were a Kent council tax payer, I would not know whether to laugh or cry over this one. One day in April 2008, the county council leader, Paul Carter, discovered his bank account was almost at its overdraft limit. He wondered why.

A quick check showed he had not received his councillor's attendance allowance for seven months. The council owed him more than £20,000 – although, oddly, the treasurer's department's records seemed to show the money had been paid on time each month.

It transpired that there was a vehicle maintenance fitter whose name was also Paul Carter, working at a council depot in Aylesford, who claimed not to have noticed the extra £3,000 that had slipped into his bank account for seven consecutive months. He vigorously objected to the council's suggestion that he might like to pay it back. The latest news – four years on – is that having lost track of Mr Carter for a long time, the county council has at last located him. He is in north-west China. And he still does not fancy paying the money back.

Colonel Tim thinks again

"I wouldn't want to be a criminal if he gets elected," a delighted Theresa May told last autumn's annual Tory conference, when introducing the Iraq War veteran Tim Collins as a possible Tory candidate to be the first elected Police Commissioner for Kent. Colonel Collins is exactly the sort of person the Tories hoped would step forward to fill the new commissioner jobs.

Well, Theresa, be as criminal as you like, because yesterday the Colonel said he was not putting his name forward after all. Too much else he wants to do.

Give us a clue, Prime Minister

There is an unenlightening question and answer in yesterday's edition of Hansard. The Labour MP David Winnick asked the Prime Minister "whether he was aware at the time that on 13 December 2010 Rebekah Brooks had discussed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer News Corporation's bid for BSkyB?"

To which David Cameron replied: "I had no role in the BSkyB takeover nor did I seek to influence the decision?" So, would that be a yes, or a no?

Food for thought

It is good that Mr Cameron will be discussing food security at Camp David today with political leaders from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and the African Union. But could they not have found a more fitting time than over lunch?

George, it's time to shape up for a fight

George Osborne appears at last to have mollified the church. He is going to take millions off them in the form of VAT on alterations to church buildings, but now he has promised that what he takes with one hand he will give back with the other, by contributing £30m to a fund for church buildings.

But just as the Chancellor got out of that one, another interest group hit by VAT is flexing its muscles. About 30,000 bodybuilders are converging on Birmingham for the Bodypower 2012 expo, on the eve of which the UK Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance has sent a letter to the Chancellor, signed by 19,000 bodybuilders, protesting at the imposition of VAT on nutrition supplements.

"We'll have 70 specialist sports nutrition companies at the expo and they are all in agreement," Ollie Upton, spokesman for Bodypower 2012, told the Birmingham Post. Talk about strong opposition.