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.

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

  1. Rod Ward. April 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Be careful what you wish for, Mike N.
    CCC are just as inept.
    What is so frustrating is that there are the calibre of people who live on Scilly who could quite easily stand and run the Islands in a competent manner. But they are too busy running their own businesses. Besides, they wouldn’t want to work with and couldn’t tolerate the ineptitude of the present authority.
    It is a frustrating fact that all over the land many councillors in most authorities couldn’t hold down a real job in the real world. But in the pen pushing, back scratching and over legislated planet that is the public sector then they flourish to the detriment of one and all.
    T’was forever thus.

    • Norman D April 30, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Spoken like someone who has never been baled out by the public sector………hmm

  2. Small minded insula something for nothing where's my grant islander April 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Has it ever occurred to anybody that CCC doesn’t want us!
    To them we are just be a bunch of grant hungry whingers, constantly moaning about how as islanders we’re entitled.

    • Pete April 26, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Speak for yourself. Not the majority.

    • High Lanes Drifter April 28, 2016 at 12:04 am

      The Council is a mess and it is inconceivable that The Department for Communities and Local Government is not aware.
      The question must be what potential embarrassment could our council generate for the department?
      Unless our nationally insignificant council has its antics picked up by the press, or District Audit finally looses patience there is no end in sight.
      Why would any other council willingly step into the mire?

      • Mike N April 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm

        It’s not about whether Cornwall would want to ‘step into the mire’ and take on Scilly’s failing authority. No council willingly takes over another, especially if extra work or expense is involved. But if the government says that has to happen, and provides the funding, they don’t really have a choice. I’ve always wanted our council to stay independent but I think the current inexperienced councillors have created a situation where its no longer viable. I have no confidence in them.

  3. Hudson April 23, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Well Chairman you definitely need another pair of hands if you are to successfully cover your eyes and ears at the same time. What have you done to this council?
    Having looked at the report you must realise the damage that has followed you every step of the way.

    • Mike N April 23, 2016 at 10:28 am

      No doubt the Chairman will claim she’s putting plans in place to address this and say it’s the fault of the previous regime. But this excuse is wearing a bit thin now. She’s been chairman for two years and was vice chair before that. For councillors to have no oversight of capital spending for a whole year AFTER massive overspends in the previous two years is totally negligent. It’s time to accept defeat and stand down as chairman.

  4. Mike N April 23, 2016 at 7:22 am

    This report shows that our elected officials are not doing their jobs properly. I can’t believe that after all the overspends, they are still not holding the officers running these projects to account. It is clear that the councillors do not know what their roles actually involve and it’s time that Scilly is absorbed into an authority like Cornwall that at least has the resources and knowledge to run a modern council.

  5. Bea Con April 22, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Heaven help us because our elected numbers aren’t protecting us from the ineptitude being described here.

  6. Chargepayer April 22, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Looks like internal audit have once again shone a beacon of light into the murky and haphazard shambles that masquerades as financial governance within our ever more beleaguered authority. Time was our councillors would have had credible oversight of fiscal matters well in advance of any audit and would have shone their own light into any matters of public importance; however as we should all now be most embarrassingly aware our council doesn’t do beacons anymore.