The Post is reporting that the Audit Committee yesterday voted to discuss the critical report into the administration of the Future Jobs Fund in private. An early contender for smallest surprise of the year I reckon.
One of the recommendations is apparently that former councillor Hassan Ahmed's conduct be referred to the Standards Committee. The article quotes Cllr Stuart Fox agreeing with monitoring officer Glen O'Connell's opinion that publishing the report could prejudice an investigation by the Committee -
"In the public domain it would prejudice the next step. It would undermine one of the district auditor's recommendations."
I'm sorry but how? The only way it could prejudice proceedings is if those making decisions i.e. councillors in the main, get to see information that could unduly influence them in making their decision. As it is already public knowledge that the District Auditor already believes that Ahmed breached the code of conduct that horse has already bolted. Furthermore, the councillors will have already seen the full report so any further prejudice that could be said to occur has already happened. Letting the public see the report can make no difference because we don't have a say in the matter. It's not like a trial where we could potentially be picked for jury service.
It also seems pretty pointless to bother with a Standards Committee investigation anyway. Ahmed is no longer a councillor and all the committee could do is to make a public finding against him which, hey, the District Auditor has already done. The man's reputation is soiled beyond redemption anyway so what more could they say?
Of course, pursuing a Standards Committee investigation gives them the excuse to kick the full report into the long grass. The investigation into Grocock's case has taken the best part of three years and, whatever else might be said about him, he does at least appear to have done everything he could to co-operate with them. There's not much chance of Ahmed being so compliant and, after all why should he be? He's got absolutely nothing to lose or gain. I doubt we'll hear any more before the next local elections.
It's interesting to note that the District Auditor did actually say that it was her 'preference' that the report be published. Well, grow some fucking ovaries missus, if you'd made it a public interest report they wouldn't have had a choice would they?
In the meantime Freedom of Information Act requests have been issued and no quarter will be given re time limits. I doubt very much that the Information Commissioner will have a lot of time for the weasel excuses NCC has wheeled out, he's no Nottingham City Council fan anyway.
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