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.