Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

More on Public questions scrutinising Uttlesford’s investment strategy

by Alan Dean on 27 March, 2019

Written as Chair of Scrutiny at Uttlesford District Council

I posted on Tuesday about press correspondence regarding the above. Today I have received an email from Richard Pavitt that he has asked me to post here. This I will do. It is set out below. I will also seek answers to his outstanding questions and will endeavour to post them on my blog as soon as I am able.

Email at 12:30 on Wednesday, 27th March 2019 from Mr Richard Pavitt to Cllr Alan Dean

Dear Alan

In response to your letter in Walden Local (27th March) I can confirm that I did receive your email of 6th March and enclosure.

Your letter in the paper was responding to mine of 20th March. It is an editor’s prerogative to edit and that’s what happened to my letter. Missing was the following line: There are other questions to which I have received answers, but that particular question remains the silent elephant in the room.

The “particular question” was about Govt guidance on local authority borrowing for investment. The officer’s reply that you forwarded to me (“In no way does this investment contravene either government finance regulations or …”) is first, simply an opinion. Exactly how did UDC comply? I would expect an evidence-based reply. And second, I didn’t ask about finance regulations, I asked about the Govt’s guidance on investment. The rest of that part of the response goes on about accounting standards and auditors — I didn’t ask about that either.

The officers further remark “Had there been any concerns from government….” is frankly, a carefully-worded smokescreen. Did UDC submit what they were doing for Govt scrutiny? if so, why isn’t that in the answer.

Since writing to you I asked the Local Government Association for assistance and they this week replied with the following question: Is there an Investment Strategy or similar as set out in para 19? The guidance says this should be public (para 18) so there should be one from before the purchase. The paras referred to here are those in the Govt guidance to local authorities.

I understand there was NOT an investment strategy prepared specifically for the purchase of Chesterford Research Park, at least not one that complies with the intention of the Govt advisory or that was made public. Perhaps you or an officer at the council could confirm if this was the case.

In conclusion, the council is putting a vast amount of money into a single asset and yet when tax-paying residents ask questions what we get back is evasive waffle.

Kind regards

Richard Pavitt

 

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