Scilly’s Councillors Didn’t Monitor Capital Project Spending Last Year Says Auditors

Old Wesleyan Chapel

Old Wesleyan Chapel

Scilly’s councillors didn’t monitor spending on capital projects for the whole of the last financial year, according to a report by internal auditors from Cornwall Council.

And the auditors say there’s a risk that projects may be overspending or failing to deliver as a result.

The conclusion comes only a year after councillors were informed that two projects run by the Economic Development Team, the airport and Porthcressa redevelopments, had overspent by almost £1.2m.

Earlier this month the Council informed ScillyToday that they still don’t know whether the extra spending on the two projects will be covered by the grant awarding bodies, or whether it will have to come from Council reserves or borrowing.

The auditors said the Council’s financial controls “remain poor” and have proposed a number of measures to improve the situation.

In a response to the report the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team admitted that spending on capital projects hadn’t been reported to members on a regular basis last year, but they said they had been managed by Senior Officers and Managers.

And they said a new Capital Governance policy is being put into place, which will address the shortcomings.

The auditors also criticised the Council for poor accounting practices, including failing to update its year-end budgets for the 2014-15 financial year until March 2016.

They said this could leave councillors in a position where they don’t have the relevant information to make long-term budget decisions.

Similarly, the auditors said department revenue budgets weren’t monitored for over three months from November 2015 until their visit in February 2016.

Auditors said the airport account showed that only half of the 2015/16 annual landing charges for private pilots had been invoiced, amounting to an undercharge of £1,107. And 5 out of 6 private plane owners had not been charged ground rent totaling £2,280.

The auditors report, which you can read here, is due to be debated at the Finance, Audit and Scrutiny Committee next week and members of the public are welcome to attend.

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