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An incredible £230,000 has been paid out by Havering Council by mistake for bills already settled in the last two years.

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The duplicate payments were revealed by a question from opposition leader Cllr Clarence Barrett (RA, Cranham) at last week’s full council meeting.

Cllr Roger Ramsey (Con, Emerson Park), the cabinet member for value, admitted that £217,468 was paid out accidentally in the 2011/12 financial year alone, mainly in four large invoices for the NHS, home care and ICT suppliers.

A further £13,331 of duplicate payments were made in 2012/13.

Residents’ Group leader Cllr Barrett said: “Although the sums have been largely recovered, it is of great concern we have a system that actually allows duplicate payments to be processed.

“What would have happened if the company owing the money goes bankrupt - as happened a couple of years ago?”

An undisclosed amount could not be recouped from the firm in the case.

Cllr Ramsey said less than £1,000 was still outstanding from 2011/12 and being pursued by the council, and £8,588 has so far been recovered from last year.

He added: “We switched over systems last year and some of the payments were as a result as a change in our Oracle financial system.

“Other duplicate payments happen because we may get issued with two invoices.

“We pay 93,000 invoices a year so some duplication, although we do everything we can to avoid it, may happen.”

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