Monday, January 12, 2009

Copeland Council's Accounts

According to the Labour executive's report to tomorrow's meeting of Copeland council, which was written a few days ago,

"The audit of the 2007/08 accounts and the post-audit amendments in relation to the 2006/7 accounts are progressing. The Head of Finance and MIS and the Audit Commission manager have met regularly to discuss progress and actions arising. The Audit Commission will provide feedback on the progress of the audit to the Audit Committee at its' meeting of 7th January (the meeting of 17th December was re-arranged.)"

Unfortunately the report containing that feedback is a "Part II" report, e.g. one which is confidential, and I would therefore be breaking the rules if I said what was in the report.

I can and will say, however, that

* I am very concerned indeed by the issues raised in the Audit report

* The accounting problems about which Copeland councillors have had previous debates at full council and audit reports have, to put it very mildly, not been fully resolved

* I think the Audit Commission report should be circulated to all councillors, and

* An up-to-date report on what has been going wrong with the council's accounts needs to be debated in a public forum so that Copeland's taxpayers and voters can have an opportunity to know how their money has been managed.


Anonymous said...

The Audit Commission wants the Council's many failings kept secret, apparantly it is not in the public interest that they are revealed. Sounds like a typical civil service whitewash to me.

Chris Whiteside said...

It was not the Audit commission who decided to keep the report secret.

At today's full council meeting David Moore asked who made the decision to class it as a confidential document and why (making clear that in his opinion, which I share, it should have been public.)

In reply it was confirmed by the council's principal legal officer, Martin Jepson, that the decision had been made by council officers, on the grounds that the the harm to the public interest in revealing it exceeded the bendfits of revealing it.

Richard said...

Surely Cllrs have seniority over officers?!

Anonymous said...

The Audit Commission are as culpable in wanting the Council's many failings kept secret, of course this also keeps the Audit Commission's own failing out of the public eye. It one thing having an out of control Council but an Audit Commission that ignores the law?

Richard's right, everything should be out in the open, Councilors of all flavours should demand it.

Chris Whiteside said...

The council would have been acting within its powers by over-ruling the officers, bringing the report into Part One, and making it a public document.

I think that the public interest would have been served by doing so.