Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Auditing Committee

I substituted on the Audit Committee on Thursday night in place of Cllr Alex Brodkin of Burnt Oak ward. It was an important meeting with a packed public gallery. There were a lot of questions from members of the public, which is very good to see, people should get involved! My first point was about transparency. The internal audit report said that the council was only meeting minimum requirements of transparency,and that they were moving to more demand led information publishing- i.e they wont bother to make public things unless asked for it! I said to them this was a bad idea, and that was it any wonder that the next page says that residents do not feel involved in decision making processes? And the council are not interested in transparency as it is, because look at what happened when the bloggers used their rights to inspect the accounts, and were confronted by redacted nonsense? I said that if this is how bad it is now, then how will it be under One Barnet when there are commercial sensitivity issues? The Council officer said they received legal advice which said to redact the accounts, but refused to publish the legal advice.

I also asked for a copy of the One Barnet Risk Report, which I managed to get with some difficulty. They said they would send itto Councillors who requested it. Only Cllr Geof Cooke, my colleague from Woodhouse ward and the committee chair, Cllr Lord Palmer asked for it. I was annoyed by that,and sent an email to all councillors telling them that they all should ask to ask to see it themselves so that they fully understood what was going on. Cllr Daniel Thomas, deputy leader of the council replied that it was already available to Councillors, and that it hadbeen to audit before. I will carefully go through it, because I am not sure it will contain the full risks. If the Council are not fully risk assessing the One Barnet omnishambles, there will be real trouble for them.