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.”
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