The chief executive of the RCVS has denied being in charge of a £500,000 slush fund.
Speaking at a council meeting on March 6, Nick Stace also said he was “insulted” by comments made by councillor Chris Barker in relation to expenditure authorised by the RCVS operational board.
The board was created in November 2013 to oversee day-to-day implementation of college business and comprises the chairmen of the key (non-statutory) committees, together with the presidential team, registrar, and its chairman, chief executive Mr Stace. Part of the board’s function is to manage the strategic development fund – and it was the availability of accounts of this expenditure that led Mr Barker to question the transparency of the board’s operations.
He said: “It is a substantial amount of money being put in the hands of the officers of the board on a recurring basis – close to half a million [pounds] is budgeted and yet at the last meeting there was no presentation or detail.
“I applied for the details of the expenditure [of the board] from last year. I don’t think this is the way a body that expresses openness and transparency should behave when it comes to the expenditure of half a million pounds.
“It would be very easy to suggest this fund is a way that expenditure could be hidden or people could be pursuing pet projects.”
Mr Barker flagged up two small overspends by the operational board during the last financial year before calling for details of its expenditure to be automatically presented to council, rather than just to those members “who bother to ask for it”.
In response, Mr Stace said: “I feel the tone of how you [Mr Barker] have just presented that is to imply I am overseeing a slush fund. That I am, quite frankly, just someone who spends things willy-nilly and allows overspends just to happen. I think that is insulting to both the operational board, the audit and risk committee and the treasurer.”
He added: “In terms of transparency, if people want a full copy of the development fund spend for the past year they can have it. And they can also have what sits behind that.”
Later in the meeting, chairman of the education, policy and specialisation committee and operational board member Chris Tuffnell said he was “insulted and slightly shocked” by Mr Barker’s comments and said: ”I am disappointed an attempt was being made to introduce an atmosphere of distrust.”
- For the full story by reporter James Westgate, see this week’s Veterinary Times (cover date March 24)