SWAT-South West Audit Travesty

14 Nov

A dozen or so members of the public turned up at today’s EDDC Audit Committee meeting which considered the “anti-corruption audit” produced for them by South West Audit  Partnership (SWAP) following the resignation of Graham Brown.

They will have been deeply disappointed by  a mediocre piece of back-covering ‘reassurance’ about the “robustness” of the council’s controls against councillors behaving badly.

According to the Report there was a “low risk” of any serious problems with councillors’ behaviour, and “no findings” of any conflicts of interests in councillors’ – and officers’- involvement with organisations such as the (now disbanded) East Devon Business Forum.

The depressing conclusions to take away?

1.       The “independent” audit was  a box-ticking exercise based on paperwork provided by officers , proving that controls exist. What they don’t seem to have investigated was whether the controls have been effective.

2.       SWAP acknowledged that it hadn’t looked at evidence from the public about alleged councillors’ activities, nor at  the formal complaints to the Monitoring Officer before the scandal erupted.

3.       The remit of the audit was decided between senior officers whose work was being inspected,  and auditors, with no reference to concerned councillors or –God forbid!- members of the public.

4.       The auditors felt that criticism of the report from some councillors and public resulted from ignorance of the sophisticated methods used in auditing!

5.       A SWAP senior auditor was indignant that any suggestions could possibly be made that his organisation which includes EDDC as a partner, and has Council people on its Board, could be anything less than totally independent.

6.   The committee members were quite happy with this anaemic audit , and with one or two honourable exceptions, had nothing searching to ask about a report whose “recommendations” are almost risibly inadequate to the task of restoring trust in a Council whose reputation is seriously tarnished .

Any positive impressions?

Full marks to the Man from SWAP who attempted to answer public  criticisms, even if he couldn’t turn a pig’s ear into silk purse. And to Chairman Ken Potter who treated public questioners with courtesy and indulgence. A pity that Cllr Tony “Diviani-is- too-transparent” Howard, persuaded him to curtail a dialogue between auditor and public.

In conclusion the Monitoring Officer, said she thought that the report ,which praised her role, was “good”.

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3 Responses to “SWAT-South West Audit Travesty”

  1. Chilcot November 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Please may I ask your excellent correspondent this – since the “legal advice” currently in force at EDDC Planning meetings is that to mention Mr Brown and the EDBF is likely to cause a rupture in the structural integrity of the universe (and so is strictly verboten) how on earth was any meaningful discussion had at today’s committee on this subject?

    Did any councillors dare use his name at any point, flouting their own “legal advice”. Or did the elephant in the room remain unremarked?

  2. Media Mandy November 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    The dirty business just got even dirtier. Perhaps the police should widen their investigations. And is ‘t there an offence of abuse of public office?

  3. Tim November 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    This would be the same monitoring officer who oversees EDDC’s duties under the Freedom of Information Act, an Act that EDDC are constantly breaching on a number of grounds as anyone can see by looking at http://www.whatdotheyknow.com

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