Objections To Council’s Accounts Cost Almost £19,000

The objection islanders made over the Council’s purchase of Garden and Decor has cost the ratepayer £18,700 in fees and the bill from the Audit Commission is set to rise further.

Additional complaints over the last two years of Town Hall accounts are also being investigated, including a formal objection over the Chief Officers’ pay rises.

Auditor Michael Yates told the Council that locals can object to actions or financial figures as part of the audit, but there can be extra costs if it goes further.

Vice Chair of Council, Marian Bennett said the costs of auditing these objections was a very serious matter because the bill came to more than the amount that the complaint was made over.

Chief Executive, Philip Hygate added that, while he supports the public’s right to challenge the figures, the Council should question the bill if it exceeds the amount over which an objection has been raised.

Councillor Richard McCarthy said armchair auditors have a right to go through the books and the Council has absorbed larger costs this year than the auditing fee.

 

Year-on-year improvements

 

Elsewhere, the Council has improved its value for money performance, according to the Audit Commission. They go through the books at local authorities each year to check they are acting legally and assess whether the ratepayer is getting the best service.

There’s no inappropriate use of public money or fraud, and only one area, management of the Council assets, remains inadequate.

Councillor Savill says objection shouldn't detract from improvements

Last year there were two areas flagged up for attention and the Town Hall fell down on more assessments in 2009.

Councillor Christine Savill said, year-on-year, the Council was making improvements and she didn’t want the single objection to detract from that.

The auditor has expressed concerned at the amount of leave that staff have built up but not taken. Some staff, including teachers, have amassed a significant number of unused leave days over several years, which will need to be paid for or taken if they leave the Council.

The Commission says the Council needs to stick to a formal leave policy.

Councillor Richard McCarthy says the cost of unused leave has risen by £50,000 in the last year and is a significant debt on the Council’s books. He said they need to see what has gone wrong and ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.