Friday, 23 December 2011

JoCo Returns to Fantasy Island

Fun and games at the last full Council Meeting when one of the Tories challenged JoCo over the recent Annual Audit letter which contains significant criticisms of the Future Jobs Fund. JoCo reponds with his usual mix of fantasy and lying by omission. Let's have a look at what he said.

"The  District  Auditor’s  comments  refer  to  a  report  drafted  in  response  to allegations ... suggesting both illegality and impropriety in the  way  contracts  were  allocated  for  work  placements  within  the programme.  A  report  that,  in  officer  time  and  audit  fees,  will  have probably  have  cost  local  tax  payers  around  £100,000."

Hmm, just like Freedom of Information costs us £500,000 no doubt. And a fraction of the cost of the botched police raid on the Iona School in an attempt to criminalise environmental activists which JoCo has repeatedly justified.

"The  report  also  acknowledges  that  the  Portfolio  Holder,  and  again  I quote:

“Complied with the requirements of the Code of Conduct on registration of interests and declaration of interests at formal Council committees and Executive meetings.” "

Firstly that's not in the Annual Audit Letter so JoCo is presumably quoting from the actual report which is yet to be made public. I presumably hasn't been released to the opposition either which means JoCo is deriving political advantage from privileged information. More on the issue of releasing information later.

However, what JoCo fails to mention is that the DA said -

"My investigation has led me to conclude that the relevant Portfolio Holder’s conduct may have been in breach of paragraph 3(2)(d) of the Code of Conduct (conduct which has compromised or is likely to compromise the impartiality of officers). My concerns arise from the need for transparency and good corporate governance rather than that there was any actual inappropriate allocation of contracts (in relation to which I did not find any evidence)."

Interestingly, the Annual Audit Letter was published on the council's website but, was removed when I wrote about it. It is due to be discussed at the Audit Committee meeting on 6 January 2012 but NCC is being unusually tardy in publishing the agenda for that meeting. That couldn't be to prevent the public from seeing it for as long as possible could it?

And it's still not clear whether the actual report will be published or placed before the same committee. Without that we can't see exactly what the DA found or what the reasons for her findings were. This is important because JoCo made the following remark -

"It appears that the DA originally believed that the  allegation,  suggesting,  that  as  a  result  she  may  have  to  issue  a public  report  on  the  matter.  However,  as  she  proceeded  with  her investigation,  it  became  clear  that  they  had  little  substance..."

The DA, Sue Sunderland has previous form of being a bit supine when criticising NCC. It would be unfortunate if political pressure had been brought to bear, resulting in her watering her conclusions.

1 comment:

tgnc said...

And here you can get a copy direct from the horses mouth.