More delays in Council accounts sign-off

July 8, 2021 10:00 PM
By Cllr Ian Marks

Gate at Warrington Council BldgLiberal Democrat former Council leader Ian Marks responds to Council delays in dealing with Freedom of Information requests associated with the failure to sign off the Council's accounts.

wp-content/uploads/imarks.jpgI have lost track of how many times I have asked at meetings of the Council's Audit and Corporate Governance Committee when the accounts for 2017/18 were going to be signed off by the external auditor. We have been given several dates, all of which have been missed, and recently neither the Council nor the Auditor are prepared to commit themselves.

Three years of accounts need signing off and a fourth year has now ended. All sorts of reasons have been given for the delay. To make matters worse, changes to the rules and enhanced auditing requirements mean some back-tracking has had to take place over parts of the accounts, previously ticked off.

The accounting is complex and you have to be a fully qualified accountant to fully understand what is going on. The Council has employed expensive consultants to support its case but we have a stand-off. When will it all end? The reputation of the Council must be damaged by all this and people will suspect something sinister is going on.

The investment in Redwood Bank caused the original challenge to the Council. The latest revelation about the Council not dealing with Freedom of Information requests about Redwood properly is a very serious matter. This just adds fuel to the fire and the Council must come clean about their treatment of these requests. I referred to the unsatisfactory responses to these requests in my Opposition Budget speech in Spring 2019 but the stalemate continues.