So at last this long awaited report has arrived, albeit in draft form as yet. The full report will follow when our Town Council pulls it's finger out and answers many outstanding questions.
Despite our jittery council hoping to keep the initial findings to themselves within hours of the report arriving at the town hall it was in the hands of the press!
Among many questions the AC ask is why the accounts for 2007/2008 have still not been submiyyed for audit, more than a year after the end of that fiscal year - "despite many requests"! The AC points out that the balance in the council's coffers has fallen from £133,044 at the end of March 2007 to just £13,000 a year later. And in the past year overdrafts had to be hastily arranged to meet ongoing expenses! Both last year's and this year's budgets appear to take no account of known expenses and the AC comments that the current budget "appears to have been produced by Councillors rather than the Responsible Financial Officer!
The Audit Commission is a body that is there to look after the interests of the taxpayer and electorate; their draft report raises issues about the way our town council has behaved that should concern everyone in Uttoxeter. But what is the response so far? Well Councillor Brookes, 'a senior member of the controlling group on the council' dismisses the report by saying: "What a waste of time and effort - while we will look at the advice, we are not obliged to follow it". What arrogance! What contempt for the electorate!
If and when our council condescends to respond to the concerns raised by the AC then the final report will make interesting reading - but don't hold your breath! One cannot but think that our council hopes that they can keep this under wraps until after the June County Council elections when the ubiquitous Geoff Morrison will be desperate to hang onto his seat: perhaps he would like to comment, before then, on the miserable performance of our town council.