Cllr Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North on Uttlesford District Council and former Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

The beginning of the end of populism? (II)

by Alan Dean on 17 November, 2020

Green, Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders at Uttlesford today demanded in a public statement that the Residents for Uttlesford ruling group should come clean and explain why the Council’s auditors are refusing to sign-off the annual accounts for 2019/20.

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted South and Birchanger, Ayub Khan, was stone-walled at the Council’s Governance & Audit committee in October. Cllr Khan said: “I raised it at the public meeting and got nowhere. I’ve been raising it for the past week in emails to all councillors and with the portfolio holder for finance, only to be met with obfuscation and denial. This is shocking.”

The Leaders of the Green, Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups have demanded clarity over what the Council’s top finance officer has termed an “outstanding investigation”.

The three Council group leaders, Paul Fairhurst, Chris Criscione, and Alan Dean, have written a letter to the Council and Residents for Uttlesford Leader, John Lodge, asking for an immediate explanation.

Green Leader, Cllr Paul Fairhurst, said: “For an Administration that campaigned on a promise of transparency, it is disappointing that an issue as grave as an auditor’s refusal to sign off accounts is veiled in such mystery and silence. This is very poor governance.”

Conservative Leader, Cllr Chris Criscione, said: “Uttlesford Council is unable to complete its accounts because of an ongoing investigation, but councillors from all parties are being kept in the dark by the Council’s leadership on what that investigation concerns. It’s time for R4U to come clean.”

I added: “This is an unprecedented situation. It has not previously occurred in my 30-plus years at Uttlesford. It’s not our officers’ fault and I have written to the chief executive and finance director to tell them so. It’s looking like a political failure by R4U.”



   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Daniel Brett says:

    This is about councillors having a spat over something, over the tops of our heads over issues we’re not allowed to know about. Meanwhile, we’re faced with severe economic problems, particularly the collapse of aviation, and the human effects – growing child poverty, rising mental health problems and housing insecurity – that are set to encompass people that have never before faced material adversity.

    The council plunged £250mn into speculative property developments, with cross-party support, that expose our public services to commercial risk – at a time when the economy is set to decline by 11.5%, the worst economic crisis in 300 years, and property values are set to go through the floor. All this is decided over our heads, in secret and without public debate. Instead, we have this meaningless chatter within the London Road bubble, which is really about a war of position ahead of the county elections. The entire district council is marginalising the public and doesn’t understand our priorities.

    District councillors of all groups need to get a grip and end the toxic political culture that is destroying public confidence and ignoring our real material needs.

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