Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Thanet District Council Accounts and the district auditor

The picture of Ramsgate progresses, the council however, what can one say.

As some of you will know I have been trying to get some information out of the council about the Pleasurama development. Mainly this is to do with the council's long term liabilities relating to the development, can the council economically maintain the cliff using the twelve foot gap between the development and the cliff wall, with the council being liable for repairing and maintaining the sea defence that holds the san in place that the new development's foundations sit on, will the council get a flood risk assessment as strongly recommended by the environment agency. Basic stuff really that would be no brainers in most organisations.

Having had the run around from the officers I thought I would use the district auditor during the open account period, so off to the draft accounts on the council's website 
Bottom left the link called, Notification of public right to inspect the accounts, should have the info The trouble is the link doesn’t work.

So about a week ago I phone the council, yes they will mend the link, yes they will send me the document.

I get back to it today and still it doesn’t work, I now have an email saying that it works, obviously it doesn’t but the council have sent me the document, here it is.

Thanet District Council
Audit Commission Act 1998, sections 15 - 16
Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011 Regulations 9, 10, 21, 22 and 24
The Council’s accounts are subject to external audit by Darren Wells, Assurance Director, Grant Thornton UK LLP, Fleming Way, Manor Royal, Crawley, RH10 9GT. Members of the public and local government electors have certain rights in the audit process:

  1. From 23 July 2015 to 19 August 2015 between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm each weekday any person may inspect the accounts of the Council for the year ended 31 March 2015 and certain related documents (comprising books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts) at the address given below.  They may also make copies of the accounts and documents.

  1. From 10am on 20 August 2015 until the conclusion of the audit process, a local government elector for the area of the Council, or his/her representative, may ask the auditor questions about the accounts.  Please contact the auditor at the address given above to make arrangements to ask any questions.

  1. From 10am on 20 August 2015 until the conclusion of the audit process, a local government elector for the area of the Council, or his/her representative, may object to the Council’s accounts asking that the auditor issue a report in the public interest (under section 8 of the Audit Commission Act 1998) and/or apply to the court for a declaration that an item in the accounts is contrary to law (under section 17 of the Audit Commission Act 1998).  Written notice of a proposed objection and the grounds on which it is made must be sent to the auditor at the address given above and copied to me at the address given below.

Dated:  1st July 2015

Madeline Homer, Chief Executive
Thanet District Council, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent, CT9 1XZ (telephone no. 01843 577123)

As you see no contact details for the new district auditor.

The Council then told me that representations to the district auditor have to be made by post only. 

Can this be right?

The council did finally provide email and phone for him

tel: 01293 554120 

I guess the question with the council once again, is are we looking at a deliberate attempt to make it difficult for the public to engage with local politics and are the council trying to cover up stuff they just don’t want people to know about, or is it just a muddle of broken links missing contact details?

There is also the question of why the council haven’t just published all of the documents the public have a right to inspect on their website?

The notion that I could give up half a day’s work to go to Margate where presumably a council officer would have to stop working and watch me inspecting council paperwork seems just bonkers when viewed from a real world in which one has to earn a living.

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