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Bonkers Blog July 2018

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28 July - Council Audit. Is it worth the paper it is written on?

InvitationI didn’t take up the Conservative’s invitation to attend the Audit (now combined with General Purposes) Committee, partly because it was too hot but I know from past experience that Bexley’s auditors will praise them to the Heavens whether the Council’s performance has been good or mediocre. However my occasional meeting companion John Watson did go. I bet he wore a tie and his best solicitor’s suit too.

John was intrigued by the fact that the Gill Steward barrier was absent and he took a picture to prove it. I have seen no barrier before and believe there is a correlation between it and the Chairman’s IQ number. (†)

What is the barrier for anyway? No resident has ever attacked a Councillor although the reverse is not completely unknown.

All it can do is impede democracy by keeping Councillors remote from voters. The introduction of barriers was either the Chief Executive’s own decision or the Leader issued her instructions. Neither is noted for their good judgment.

John’s meeting report is not a lot of use, the sound system was faulty and had to be switched off and his ears are even older than mine.

I’ll tell you why my opinion of Bexley’s auditors is rock bottom instead.

CommitteeBack in 2014 when more time and outside help was available for Bonkers I poked my nose quite deeply into Bexley’s accounts, their parking revenue in particular.

It transpired that Bexley Council kept a parking contract for public consumption and another under lock and key; a real but rather more dubious one only a few people knew about. It was illegal in various respects and the auditors were persuaded to take a good look at it.

An auditor's report which I still have but never published said many times over that Bexley Council was guilty of maladministration. Not to beat about the bush the whole thing looked like fraud, indeed a few residents who had sussed out the same for themselves were paid off but the vast majority of people who were out of pocket got nothing.

The auditors became aware of exactly what was going on but were unwilling to bring anyone at Bexley Council to book, although they would be happy if I took them to Court at my expense. I still have that letter too.

Bexley’s accounts were late being approved that year but they were still given a clean bill of health, just as they were last Thursday.

I hope you will now understand why I couldn’t be bothered to keep John Watson company. I have heard all that “effective and efficient” tripe before. Those words can cover a multitude of sins.

Note: To the best of my knowledge Bexley’s parking department cleaned up its act after the Auditor was pushed into exposing what they were up to.
† The Audit Committee Chairman is Nick O’Hare but he appears to be absent from John’s picture.


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