Councillor Criticises Lack Of Financial Data In Meeting

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

A St Mary’s councillor has criticised the lack of financial information being provided in Council meetings.

Cllr Fran Grottick was speaking at last week’s Children and Young People Committee, where members were asked to approve the end-of-year budget estimates for areas including education and social care.

These showed an underspend of £156,000, which Finance Officer Sarah Chodkiewicz said was mainly down to vacant staffing posts.

But Cllr Grottick was worried that approving a budget reduction for this year could have a knock-on effect on funding in subsequent years.

Fran said there’s, “so little financial information compared to what we’ve had in the past, it does make it difficult to fully understand what we’re discussing.”

Fran isn’t the first councillor recently to question the lack of financial data being presented at meetings.

In the autumn, Cllr Richard McCarthy asked why budget monitoring reports were no longer being brought to the General Purposes Committee, one of the largest-spending areas of the Council.

Richard was told this was because a request now has to be made to get them included on the agenda.

Earlier in the meeting, Chairman Christine Savill told members that her committee didn’t yet have a budget prepared for the new financial year, starting in April. She said a special meeting would be held later this month to discuss it.

Chris apologised for several late reports being brought to councillors, including the financial data. She said the process of putting together the meeting hadn’t “run as many of us would have hoped.”

And Chairman of the School Governors, Ben Julian, said the current lack of an education accountant at the school, provided by the local authority, was “proving a barrier to efficiently manage the finances.”

He said it meant he was “seeing the figures at the meeting,” rather than discussing them beforehand.

Sarah Chodkiewicz said a post for a new qualified accountant had been created under the new restructuring in the Town Hall but they’d had problems recruiting someone.


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