South West Audit Partnership: recent FOI requests

Including how councillors can serve on its board and remain neutral and minutes of Board Meetings, though SWAP seem unable to understand quite how whatdotheyknow works:

SWAP are the internal auditors to EDDC and South Somerset councils and (see below) their EDDC auditor has said that he has not examined EDDC relocation figures “in depth”.

Those Exmouth beach huts not fit for purpose

Exmouth beach Huts

Radio Devon news today announced EDDC’s huge project for Exmouth seafront, to include an open-air sports facility. Shame Councillor Moulding and his team haven’t noticed there already is a superb one, that families don’t have to pay to use, requires no energy consumption, and doesn’t pollute. The wide open spaces and sandy beach have long been the resort’s main attraction. (The little-used new ‘super’ bowling alley complex has been struggling to make a profit, we’re told.)

Part of the proposed Splash area.

Now Exmouth’s signature seafront beach huts are to be removed, to make way for the District Council’s ambitious Splash project (just a part of the massive site pictured above). Same glass-and-concrete vision as that which bulldozed the much-loved, constantly used and unique Elizabeth Hall,so the land could be sold to the ubiquitous Premier Inn…

Eliz Hall Demolition 2

So Exmouth loses more of its special character and much-loved landmarks. What exactly will it gain?

A stretch of Queens Drive

“The principle interest in a report is its probity”.

This point was made very firmly by Deputy Chair Cllr Bowden, at this afternoon’s Audit and Governance (A&G) Committee meeting at Knowle.
Councillors and the public will naturally bear this in mind when the two independent audits, called for by A&G today, arrive in quick succession. The Committee was assured by EDDC officer Simon Davey, that both reports would be available by mid- to late-February 2015, to give time for a thorough reading before the next A&G meeting in March. They are long overdue!

Individual councillors, and of course Save Our Sidmouth (SOS), have made repeated requests for independent audits over the past two years.Not until 17 December 2014, and long after the political decision to move had been approved by themselves, did the Full Council, prompted by Cllr Graham Troman, vote to ask for a thorough investigation of the figures behind the relocation project.

Today, partly in response to questions from Richard Eley of SOS, and Tony Green of|East Devon Alliance, it was formally requested through the Chair, Cllr Ken Potter, that the the reports must be in writing, and that most of the content should be in Part A…i.e. in the public domain.

Internal auditor, Andrew Ellins,of South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) acknowledged that until now his work had depended more “on reliance than in-depth delving ” into the actual figures given by the relocation team. “If the figures are not accurate, then I have been hoodwinked”, he said. He appealed to members of the public to send him any information about possible errors in the Council’s facts and figures, that they would like him to report on.

External auditors, Grant Thornton, also promised to take a rigorous look at the Council’s calculations including the energy savings claimed by Richard Cohen to justify the move from the Knowle . Richard Eley had already expressed his incredulity at the “maverick and pessimistic” predictions of the Deputy CEO.

Several councillors expressed their awareness of the massive public concern over relocation, and Chair, Cllr Ken Potter declared, “This committee is anxious to get to the detail”. The business plan for relocation, and the soundness of the assumptions driving it, might at long last be thoroughly examined. We shall see.

EDDC needs a new Development Manager who can see into the future in the future!

Thanks to an eagle-eyed correspondent who has noticed on the blog of EDDC Cabinet Member Ian Thomas that

(a) EDDC is advertising for a new Development Manager
(b) he or she will need the skill of seeing into the future – in the future!

Curse of the Tory spellchecker (and a grocer’s apostrophe!)?

“Industry publication “The Planner” is carrying in it’s jobs section an advert seeking for a key individual to further bolster the EDDC Planning Team. The position is to be based at The Knowle in Sidmouth although, in line with last evening’s Full Council resolution to progress toward relocation to a combined Honiton and Exmouth future prescience, the advert does confirm that the Council may relocate to new office facilities in the future.”

Prescience: having prescience, or knowledge of things or events before they exist or happen

Presence: the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.

And a new Development Manager to be appointed by the “old guard” before the May election. Sweet!

Councillors: spellcheck those spellcheckers!