PEOPLE’S AUDIT LAMBETH STILL LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

Lambeth Peoples Audit meet the minister: Pictured (from left) with Marcus Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Local Government) are  Michael J Keane; (Mr Jones); Gerlinde Gniewosz; Simon Morrow; Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall; and Pete Elliott, Lambeth Green party. Simon Morrow told News From Crystal Palace: “It is very telling that it was easier to get a meeting with a minister than it has been to meet Lambeth.” They have also met Meg Hillier, who chairs the public accounts committee. Meg Hillier is Labour & Co-op Member of Parliament for Hackney South & Shoreditch.

Lambeth council have been asked AGAIN to supply answers raised in the People’s Audit report issued more than two months ago and which was initially dismissed as a “pack of lies”.

As News From Crystal Palace reported in July  Lambeth People’s Audit said their report “unearthed evidence of extensive financial mismanagement and failings in its financial governance that suggest millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted.”

Now a second report titled “Questions That Won’t Go Away” details the evidence unearthed and the concerns which Peoples Audit Lambeth say  “have yet to be properly investigated by the local authority.”

These include:

  • New town hall: Please explain why Lambeth have accepted a bid from Muse which only had 20 per cent affordable housing when it was stated in the cabinet minutes that 40 per cent would be achieved.
    Lambeth state that they have paid an additional £5M to Muse to increase the affordable housing element from 20pc to 40pc. 194 homes x 20pc =39 homes/£5M = £128,000 per home, which is more than the cost of building them.
    This is on top of the substantial discount that Muse have received in the price that they have paid for the lease of the land. Please explain (Section 5 of report).
  • Libraries: Please provide the legal opinion stating that the deal struck between Lambeth and Greenwich Leisure was not in breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.Please also explain why sponsorship of the Black Cultural Archive by GLL was conditional on the deal struck between Lambeth and GLL for the healthy living centres (Section 9 of report).
  • Payments without budget: Please explain the obvious flaw in governance that allows· contractors to be paid without a budget (Section 13.1 of report).
  • Contract Waivers: Please explain why Lambeth’s Standing Orders are being ignored on such a large scale (Section 13.3 of report).Peoples’Audit Lambeth add that in Lambeth council’s reply to them, deputy leader Cllr Imogen Walker states: “The council’s accounts have been fully signed off by the independent auditors, who have also responded in detail to the complaints submitted by the ‘People’s Audit’. “There is clearly no basis for the finding of “extensive financial mismanagement” in this report, and many of its complaints were addressed by the auditors and Lambeth officers several months ago.”The Peoples’ Audit response: “Lambeth council’s reliance on KPMG as a defence against concerns of financial mismanagement doesn’t tell the whole story.“As we stated in our open letter to Lambeth ‘The majority of the questions that the report poses need to be answered by Lambeth council, not KPMG.’

    “Furthermore, although the accounts have been signed off by KPMG, they state in their audit report: “We will not be certifying our audit as complete as result of the objections we have received to the accounts”.

    “It is entirely untrue of Lambeth to state with regard to our objections to the auditor that ‘No such evidence was provided’. “Evidence has been provided to the auditor. “At the time of writing there are still objections outstanding with KPMG, more than a year after they were submitted.”

    Further reading:

    People’s Audit report on Lambeth council has “unearthed evidence of extensive financial mismanagement and failings in its financial governance that suggest millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted. “Lack of governance within Lambeth council appears to be systemic.” July 7, 2017 this website

    LAMBETH PEOPLES AUDIT -101 QUESTIONS FOR LAMBETH COUNCIL’S CABINET – Part One July 13, 2017 this website

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