District Auditor and Dimensions

I am shocked that yet again secret deals are allowed to be done within our civic centre, ok I can’t be that shocked its been going on for years and its no wonder when there are NO checks and balances.

The District Auditor who one awesome carries out these checks and balances is willing to close an investigation down on a PRESUMPTION (see below 16th December email highlighted in red for the anger I feel). How can an audit or a budget report be based on presumptions there must be hard and fast evidence to justify the decisions taken by our City Council and our Auditors.

Had our Councillors known there was an extra £100,000 in the finances they may have taken a different route in the Budget setting

Why would Officers and Leading Members decided to hold Telling Councillors this information until AFTER Dimensions was closed?

The District Auditor finds that the Council acted Legally as NO payments were actually made to a 3rd Party, as NO payments made Councillors had not been mis-informed so the Budget remains legal. Well sorry put what does the District Auditor think the £44,000 settlement was if not a payment, caused in many peoples minds to have a risen from the secrecy of this whole sorrid affair.

So the District Auditor has spoken the next formal step would be a Judicial Review and as those in power know we mere residents can not afford such action, and so they Circle continues.

What other Plans are hidden in this Years Budget that can be legally withheld until a later date, with Councillors only told when they need to be told by those in Control?

Please read below the Auditors finding and leave a Comment

21st October

Dear Mark Stocks

Can you please advise on the following issue, arising from a broken agreement.

In  February 2008 Councillors agreed to close a council swimming pool call Dimension with savings of Ł60,000.

Last month (see below web link) a local business man Mo Chaudry admits a deal was made with the council reversed its decision to close the pool in June 2008 and threatened to sue the council.

The deal was to pay Mo Chaudry owner of a swimming pool called WaterWorld Ł100,000 a year to deal with swimmers after the Council Closed its only Dimensions Pool, in Burslem

But in February 2008 when Councillors agreed to close the pool, there is no mention in the Dimension report, or the Budget report of any funding set out for the Ł100,000 yearly payment to Mo Chaudry.

As the elected mayor did not give full information to elected members regarding the Budget, and the Budget was not balanced due to missing Ł100,000 it must have been an illegal budget.

I would like your opinion on the Status of the 2008 budget and if any action is now required

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/City-council-settles-Mo-Chaudry-close-dispute/story-13372989-detail/story.html

Ian Norris
23 Dart Avenue
Tunstall
ST6 7HX

9th December

Dear Mr Norris

Dimensions Leisure Centre

Thank you for your email regarding the issues around the proposed closure of the swimming pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre.

We have previously reviewed the issues that you have raised in your e-mail and I have set out the key findings from our earlier reviews below. In answering your queries I have also confirmed the sequence of decision making.

With regard to related meetings

Deliberations took place regarding the possible closure of the Dimensions splash pool and a proposal was developed, which was taken forward as part of the 2008/09 budget

With regard to the setting of the Council budget

The proposals to close the Dimensions pool did form part of the 2008/09 budget proposals. The proposal was considered by the Council as follows:

  • City Council meeting 28 Feb 2008 – savings proposals re closure of the pool at Dimensions
  • were debated and agreed.
  • City Council meeting 27 March 2008 – a petition was received asking for reconsideration of
  • the closure(that had been agreed at the meeting on 28 February 2008). The decision was
  • referred to the Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
  • Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee 3 April 2008 – the committee
  • recommended that:
    • the closure was reconsidered by the Council
    • the closure was suspended
    • a task and finish group was set up to review all community services savings plans.
  • City Council meeting 12 June 2008 – approved the above minutes without comment
  • Improving Communities O&S Committee 3 July 2008 – a report was received confirming
  • that the proposed closure would not yield the anticipated savings and that there were other options available to achieve the savings. The Committee recommended that the Executive re-visits the budget savings identified for the Community Services Directorate.
  • City Council meeting 4 December 2008 – approved the above minutes without comment.

I am satisfied that the Council received full and proper information in setting its budget.

With regard to the pool closure and payment for the alternative arrangement

The Council did not agree to the closure of the Dimensions pool. The Council has complied with
its budget and the pool remains open and under the Council’s management. The Council did
not make any payment towards the alternative arrangements as part of the 2008/09 budget.

Summary

In conclusion, I have no evidence that the Council has acted illegally or that the 2008/09 budget
was illegal. The decisions made appear to have been properly reported and subject to
reasonable scrutiny.

I note that your question relates to the 2008/09 audit year. The appointed auditor considered the
issues that you raised as part of his audit for that year. The audit has now been completed and
certified closed. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a closed audit would be reopened. I
am not aware of any matters which would lead me to conclude that I need to reopen this audit.

I hope this is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Mark Stocks
District Auditor

10th December

Thank you, understand these things can take time, would your findings
have been different had alternative arrangements actually been paid
for?

Ian

16th December

Hi Mr Norris

It is difficult to say.

I presume that if the closure had gone ahead then the Council , as part of the process, would have sought approval of any additional expenditure (and as such been compliant with its Sos/SFIs).

Kind regards

Mark Stocks
District Auditor

16th December

I’m sorry but isn’t Budget Setting the time to seek approval for additional expenditure? The Full Council AGREED to close Dimensions in February as part of the Budget Setting but didn’t give approval to Fund the Alternative arrangement (as was not reported). Where was the £100,00 to come from if it wasn’t included in the Budget report?

Ian Norris

CC to my local Councillor and Press

20th December

Dear Mr Norris

As per my letter I am satisfied that the Council set its 2008/09 budget appropriately.

I do not consider it appropriate for me to comment further in areas where the Council has not incurred expenditure.

Kind regards

Mark Stocks
District Auditor

20th December

could be argued that the council did incure expenditure because it cost the council £44,000 for the broken contract so payment was made?

Ian

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