Missing accounts?
Missing accounts?

Waterbeach and Milton Labour’s Elizabeth McWilliams on transparency in Local Government, or not in the case of South Cambs Lib Dems!

How come the Lib Dems are finding it so hard to issue audited accounts from the year ending March 2019? Why does every date they forecast get missed?

South Cambs District Council spends over £100m every year on local services. Do you have a clear idea what they spend it on?

No, neither do I. Nor does anyone else.

In fact no-one knows for sure because the Lib Dems have failed to publish any audited accounts in the almost four years since taking charge.

Is there anything suspicious going on? They say not. Nearly four years later, they are blaming it on the previous Conservative Administration.

It’s true that the Tories had a bit of trouble with their accounts. They were late several years in a row. The last set of accounts that they were responsible for issuing were published in Jan 2018 which was six months late.

The Lib Dems took over in May 2018. The deadline for signing audited accounts that year was July. Here we are in March 2022 and we’re still waiting. That’s 31 months behind!

On many occasions they’ve claimed that the accounts are on the verge of being ready. Each time the auditors have had to point out that important data is missing or inconsistent. Each time there’s been a delay, that’s more work by the auditors and more fees coming out of the already hard-hit budget.

At the start of February, it was reported (e.g Cambridge Independent 1st Feb) that the accounts would be signed off at a meeting of the Audit Committee on 4th Feb. We don’t know the full story of what happened at that meeting because the live recording mysteriously failed.

However, the draft minutes reveal that the accounts were not signed off but they hoped to do so by the end of the month. And the chair announced that if they were not signed off, there would be another meeting early in March.

Yet here we are. No sign of the accounts. No new audit committee meeting scheduled.

Should we cut them some slack because of Covid? The Government extended the deadline for accounts from July to September. Nearly every other council in Cambridgeshire is up-to-date. All have published their accounts for 18/19 and 19/20 with just two out of the eight still to publish for last year.

Here’s my message to the Chair of the Audit Committee asking for an update. Not holding my breath.

 

At 4 Feb@southCambs Audit Committee the Chair said either the 18/19 accounts would be signed by the end of Feb or there would be another meeting in early March. Neither of these happened. @TonyMasonLibDem care to throw some light on this? Looks like kicking the can down the road

 

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