St Neots Town Council finance report to stay private

A REPORT on the financial mismanagement and state of St Neots Town Council accounts will no longer be made public…as long as the council makes efforts to improve. Auditors had been intending to issue a public interest report (PIR) on the town council afte

A REPORT on the financial mismanagement and state of St Neots Town Council accounts will no longer be made public...as long as the council makes efforts to improve.

Auditors had been intending to issue a public interest report (PIR) on the town council after they discovered a 40-year-old loan of �300,000 'mis-recorded' on the 2007/08 accounts.

Grant Thornton told councillors last month they faced a public naming and shaming with their accounts being published on the Audit Commission's website.

This was after auditors found the council's financial management inadequate in 10 out of 11 categories that were checked, including managing and improving value for money.

However this week, Grant Thorntons has decided after discussions with the Audit Commission not to issue a PIR about the town council.

The firm has, however, reserved the right to issue PIR for the council's 2008/09 accounts if the council fails to implement auditors' recommendations.

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These include establishing appropriate procedures for the monitoring and reporting of performance indicators throughout the year and integrated reporting of the council's financial and operational performance, allowing the public to see value for money.

In addition, the council has been told that where areas of high expenditure and/or poor performance are identified, it should take appropriate steps to improve value for money.

Town mayor Councillor Gordon Thorpe said the decision not to issue a PIR was good news but it did not alter the council's "resolve to implement all the recommendations".

He added: "The council has approved its 2008/09 accounts in accordance with the statutory timetable and are addressing the observations highlighted by the external audit team.

"Council officers are working very hard to put things right and we thank auditors for their in-depth reports."

Auditors will consider the 2008/09 accounts before the end of September and decide whether the council has made adequate progress.

Cllr Barry Chapman said the auditor's feedback should act as a wake-up call for the council to sort out its financial management.

He said: "The council has been given a stay of execution. But St Neots Town Council is still drinking at the last chance saloon. Public money needs to be properly accounted for.

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