AUDIT COMMITEE- the facts don’t add up!

Last week’s Flintshire Chronicle had “Council in Chaos” emblazoned across the front page that depicted County Hall being rent in half with a bolt of lightning. All very dramatic and rather an exaggeration as the Coalition has set its first budget with a promise of more savings in the pipe line and most of the senior vacancies have been filled with excellent calibre staff. Our Executive members are working hard, clearly at ease with their portfolios & we are led by a professional and deeply committed public servant; Cllr. Arnold Woolley. However, saying all that a few odd things are happening that have raised eyebrows. A sharp eyed colleague pushed under my nose a report of the Executive Decision made on 10th March which related to the last Audit committee meeting- (27th Jan. See earlier blog!) I read with incredulity that members are requested to :
‘Support the extension of the contract with RMS Bentley Jennison and the work to achieve a transfer of the management of the Internal Audit function back in-house no later than 1st April 2010.’ “We didn’t agree that my informant complained, what was the word we agreed?”
Review in a year was in fact what we had unanimously agreed & for my part, I only voted on this review to play for time as the difference between the wishes of officers was so out of step with members. I would have voted to keep Internal Audit function away from the “In House” option for as long as possible. I was not alone- ex banker Cllr Peter Pemberton spoke eloquently against bringing Internal Audit in house. It was along the lines;
“you cannot be serious, think of all the previous problems- no way do we want to backwards along the In-House road ever again.”
The Executive report mentioned the likelihood of a £20.000 annual efficiently cost saving but even that had strings attached. Who wrote this report that wrong footed the Executive so badly? Where did this incorrect information come from? Minutes of the January meeting have not been produced or seen by board members because the next meeting, scheduled for 4th March had been cancelled. Why was the meeting cancelled where the minutes would have to be approved?. They would have been challenged if they had not recorded the true unanimous decision! A senior officer legal officer agreed that the minutes had no authority until accepted by members. He could offer no explanation as to why the Executive had been briefed so prematurely and so incorrectly! This presumed refusal to adhere to the unanimous decision of a County Audit Committee and report a different set of facts to the Executive is not playing the game and just will not do. Someone seems to have got wires crossed very badly. Certainly three members of the Audit Committee, Cllr. Peter Pemberton, Cllr. Haydon Bateman and I look forward to hearing a rational and full explanation & a commitment to end such silliness in the future.

One Comment

  1. Colin Hughes says:

    Flintshire County Council for quite a few years appeared regularly in the satirical magazine Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs over matters financial. The above exchange between officers and members incredulous. Well done members!

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