South West Audit Pollyanna?

8 Nov

Some SIN-ners were dumbfounded that the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) Report on Governance (Councillors), published this week found nothing at all to worry about at East Devon District Council in the fall-out from ‘Browngate’.

Not a smidgeon of concern about the activities of Graham Brown’s East Devon Business Forum. Not a scintilla of unease about the serial failure of some councillors to declare conflicts of interest. Not the slightest shock at the tendency of some council leaders to insult critics as politically-motivated slanderers. Not even a soupcon of regret that EDDC’s reputation has been trashed locally and nationally.

Is it just that our cheerful auditor must be a ‘cock-eyed optimist’ or could it be that the new local government auditing system itself is fatally flawed?

Well, Transparency International UK, (TIUK), the country’s leading anti-corruption organisation, thinks so. In a recent Report here

http://www.transparency.org.uk/our-work/publications/747-corruption-in-uk-local-government–the-mounting-risks

it comments “ the system of checks and balances that previously existed to limit corruption has been eroded (by) the removal of independent public audit of local authorities,”

It is difficult to be confident that new Audit partnerships can be  really independent when they are  appointed by the Councils themselves, include councils as partners, and have council leaders sitting on their Boards.

Unsurprisingly SWAP doesn’t agree. On a tweet posted on their website they comment on the TIUK Report, “Hard to imagine anything less accurate!”

We might be tempted to say the same about SWAP’s verdicts on EDDC governance.

3 Responses to “South West Audit Pollyanna?”

  1. Numerate Ned November 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Here in eastern parishes of our noble district we have many time-honoured traditions in the audit procedure.

    Matey local accountants sign off annual council accounts which look like they have been drafted by a nine year old. Concerned councillors then question these accounts, and are referred to the accountants/auditors. who then refer the councillor back to the council, who then refer … etc, ad infinitum.

    The South West Audit Partnership. Each time I roll that one round in my mouth I laugh out loud.

  2. Tim November 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Could SWAP’s response have anything to do with the fact that the first example given in the TIUK report reads ” Bribery in local government, such as in the case of a councillor in the West Country who was recorded making claims that he could obtain planning permission in return for payment”? Who could they be thinking of?

    • Tim November 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      I should have read further. EDDC and Brown feature rather prominently in a very well considered report from TIUK.

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