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Bonkers Blog November 2014

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23 November (Part 2) - An objectionable lack of curiosity

A reader who seems to understand accounts better than I do, not difficult, has sent me an email in which he attempts to expose some of the chicanery in which Bexley council appears to be indulging following my objection, or should that be Mr. Other’s objection, to Bexley’s 2013/14 accounts? It’s a bit on the long side but I’ll make sure it, or at least the important bits, appear on line very soon. The message made me think again about the Audit Committee meeting reported here on 25th September.

It was during that meeting that the council’s auditor revealed, apparently for the first time, that there had been an objection. The following is the audio clip which first appeared on BiB on 13th October in which Ms. Exton gives it a passing mention. At the time I did not reveal my own involvement.

It has belatedly struck me that not a single councillor was interested enough to ask what the objection was. Curious bunch aren’t they? What sort of scrutiny do people like that offer? Is committee chairman Joseph Pollard worth the £2,100 he is paid for the job?

Labour councillor Daniel Francis who is not usually lacking in the curiosity department was the only person present who picked up on the auditor’s comment at all. He asked her several questions, the last of which mentioned the objection. The clip below is edited so as to cut the auditor’s response to the councillor’s earlier questions.

AccountsCouncillor Frances asked about the procedure for handling objections but somehow never got around to asking what this one might be. (It’s about incentives offered to the council’s parking contractor to issue more penalties; keep up at the back!)

The remaining members of the committee presumably cared even less. Or was it all part of a cover up to keep the subject out of the minutes?

It’s not impossible that the Audit Committee had been warned off at a prior ‘dress rehearsal’ so that the obvious but embarrassing question and answer wouldn’t end up on the public record.

As it is, Bexley council can just about get away with a statement like the one that appears on Page 16 of their Winter 2014 magazine and reproduced here.

Most Bexley Magazine readers will assume that the council’s accounts have received a totally clean bill of health from Grant Thornton, while the more informed readers of BiB will know better.


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