The Audit & Accounts Act 2003 ceased to be as of the 31/03/15. The SDC audit of their accounts 2014/15 were subject to this legislation in 2014/15.
Under s151 of the Local Government Act 1972 a local council is required to appoint an officer responsible for the administration of all its financial affairs. At the time of the Cllrs Inappropriate claims the s151 officer was according to the report at page 3
“Tim Madden, Corporate Director Organisational Change, who was at the time of the complaint Section 151 Officer and therefore responsible for corporate financial probity.”
In the report “LOCAL INVESTIGATION CONCERNING COUNCILLOR PETER SIMMONS, A MEMBER OF SHEPWAY DISTRICT COUNCIL” it states at page 6:
“Again the Audit report makes it clear in section 5 that the system of checking Councillors claims had been relaxed in the period of time leading up to the current case and had resulted in only spot checks being made.
These spot checks did not detect the issue with regard to the Subject Member’s claim forms and hence the size of the amount over claimed had increased with the passage of time.”
Mr Madden at that time was bound by the Audit and Accounts Act 2003 and especially s5 (4)(a) which states:
“measures to ensure prompt and accurate recording of financial transactions, measures to prevent and detect inaccuracies and fraud and the ability to reconstitute any lost records, e.g. computer back up facilities.”
We at Shepwayvox cannot believe that for one minute that Mr Madden kept “prompt and accurate recordings of financial transactions” as the checking of Cllrs expenses “had been relaxed” and “resulted in only spot checks being made”
Now the legislation governing Mr Madden’s financial responsibilities were clear but alas due to a “relaxed” checking of Cllrs financial transactions by Mr Madden, it would appear that he was not carrying out his responsibilities in accordance with s5(4)(a) and therefore failed in his duties and responsibilities.
What we would ask is
1 Why were the checks relaxed when according to s5(4)(a) Mr Madden should have kept “prompt and accurate recordings of financial transactions”
2 What if any reprimand has Mr Madden received
3 At the most fundamental level of Mr Madden’s responsibilities it was his job to ensure robust systems of risk management and internal control, that financial control was exercised consistently, and that the SDC implemented appropriate measures to protect its assets from fraud and loss. It would appear Mr Madden failed to protect SDC financial assets from “loss”, so was he, and is he, fit for purpose to hold the office of s151 officer? What do you think?
Mr Milne’s report which cost us 6780.00 is severely lacking as it fails to look at the responsibility of the s151 officer. Has any internal reprimand been handed down to Mr Madden as it must be remembered he is now once again the responsible s151 officer and thus in charge of looking after the money. Do you feel safe that taxpayer’s money is back in the hands of Mr Madden?
If an bookkeeper such as Cllr Simmons was able to claim 210.15 of taxpayer’s money and Mr Madden (who to is an qualified accountant; which is vastly different from a bookkeeper) was not able to spot this “loss” what other money might SDC have “lost” under his stewardship?