Jump to content

Corporate governance - who is running the ship?


twowheelsgood
 Share

Recommended Posts

There is a statutory requirement for a Section 151 Officer in every local authority - arguably the single most important post in the Council, with huge responsibility for corporate management, financial management, supporting the democratic process etc, etc.

 
Here in sleepy Herefordshire Council, this has been the job of one Peter Robinson, who came to us from Bristol Council with a well reported, shall we say, history - google it, you might be surprised, clearly those doing the appointment didn't.
 
Well, as we know from the HT, PR’s whereabouts have been a mystery for some 5 months now, seemingly triggered by Cllr Bob Mathews asking some pertinent questions about accounts for the link road, which were some £10m adrift, prompting wider wider questions to be asked, not the least by the HT in the form of a FOI request to the Council, which wasn't answered. 
 
As we know now again from the HT, a secret meeting had been called by the Council for last week - press and public to be excluded - to discuss the conduct of a senior officer. On the eve of the meeting, we understand PR resigned, having been on paid gardening leave for the last 5 months. In his absence, we must assume that the statutory responsibility fell to his Deputy, Josie Rushgrove, and we hope she had her salary increased for the additional burden. We now understand Ms Rushgrove herself is to take an extended leave for personal reasons.
 
So, with no Section 151 Officer or Deputy, who is running the ship? We've seen councillors sitting on their hands yet again and not reacting to this latest scandal to engulf the Council. No doubt this latest one has cost us dear, yet no one is called to book. A rudderless ship will in the end flounder on rocks - is anyone looking out for them?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Councillors you know the ones that the people of Herefordshire elected to speak on their behalf - it is time to be brave very brave and ask the question we are begging to be asked.  You will be shouted at ignored probably verbally abused and bullied but you really do need to take a deep breath throw your shoulders back and start to save a county that so many people love and cherish.  Why did you stand for Councillorship was it to be liked and respected by your colleagues or did you want to make a difference?

 

Indies have tried to be heard but IOC where are you?????????????????

 

 

Same goes for HT 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let us clarify the situation. 

 

Bob Matthews pointed out in February that there were erroneous figures in the budget and there was a £9m unexplained adjustment to the inner link road costs  .Peter Robinson denied there was an error and prevaricated for several months before throwing himself at the mercy of South West Audit a company where he was a director. Unsurprisingly they found him innocent of accounting irregularities. By this time Alistair Neill had launched his own enquiry by whom and for what purpose no one knows, but before the enquiry reported Peter Robinson resigned and Neill said the enquiry would be wound up and the 151 officer and head of Hoople could leave with with his head held high.Some people consider that Neills intervention was set up to clear his fellow mason and when this proved impossible the officer resigned. The truth will never be known except to an inner circle of Neill, Hughes and Johnson. I think most of us would conclude that the 3 of them should go back to Crickhowell, leaving Herefordshire to appoint an administration which is both open, honest and puts the people of Herefordshire first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Let us clarify the situation. 
 
Bob Matthews pointed out in February that there were erroneous figures in the budget and there was a £9m unexplained adjustment to the inner link road costs  .Peter Robinson denied there was an error and prevaricated for several months before throwing himself at the mercy of South West Audit a company where he was a director. Unsurprisingly they found him innocent of accounting irregularities. By this time Alistair Neill had launched his own enquiry by whom and for what purpose no one knows, but before the enquiry reported Peter Robinson resigned and Neill said the enquiry would be wound up and the 151 officer and head of Hoople could leave with with his head held high.Some people consider that Neills intervention was set up to clear his fellow mason and when this proved impossible the officer resigned. The truth will never be known except to an inner circle of Neill, Hughes and Johnson. I think most of us would conclude that the 3 of them should go back to Crickhowell, leaving Herefordshire to appoint an administration which is both open, honest and puts the people of Herefordshire first.

 

Surely we the people of Herefordshire will have paid the cost of staff or someone outside the Council to carry out Mr Neill's enquiry so we the people should be allowed to see the results of such work. I hope The Hereford Times or someone will submit an appropriate Freedom Of Information request as if this happened to any other member of staff they would be shown the door very quickly not given 5 months full pay and a glowing reference. A little coterie of Freemasons should not be allowed to look after their friends particularly when they seem to be rubbish at their job. I thought the phrase was "Hereford pays the best to get the best" - instead we get "Herefordshire pays the best to get the Chief Executives Best friends"! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Consider this a person on £120k pa plus other benefits is accused of malpractice - he is innocent he resigns and walks away with a payout - but if he was innocent why would he resign and not stay and fight for his good name


or alternatively
 
he is guilty but he could take people down with him (and his accusers know this and the damage he could cause) he accepts a payout or hush money and resigns
 
Did this also happen with Norman?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 
So, with no Section 151 Officer or Deputy, who is running the ship?

 

I'd hazard a guess an interim has been appointed, in much the same way as for the monitoring officer role a year ago (an arrangement that was supposed to last nine months - possibly it's been extended?). However  given this Council's tradition of ignoring its legal obligations I wouldn't bet on it.

 

Re: Peter Robinson's alleged leadership of Hoople -  He was never actually appointed as an officer of the company, per my post in a previous thread here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Denise, I questioned this discrepancy with Peter Robinson before I left the council together with  Bob Matthews at an Independent meeting, Peter Robinson could not give me a satisfactory answer. I was told today Robinson has gone but with no golden handshake, but was cleared of the investigation by Mr Neil, it has not stopped there Bob Matthews, Terry James, the leader of the Green party and IOC has all signed a letter which will be in the HT tomorrow, it should make interesting reading. Robinson has now moved again from a local authority (Hereford) to no doubt do it all over again somewhere else!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No letter so will have to wait until next week.  HT Opinion has now put the ball firmly in the court of the oppo's to start asking some very serious questions so we will wait and see.

 

5 months full pay no production has cost us the tax payer £24000.00 plus.  Can HC really afford to pay up for these cock up's time and time again?  Who is employing these people?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

£98kpa x 5 months = £41k, but then on top of that is pension contributions and employers NI, so you're probably not far off £50k. Then of course there will be the uplift of the Deputy's salary for 5 months, the £30k recruitment fee (can we ask for a refund?), endless reports and officer time and then another load of money to recruit a replacement (and with the Council's reputation, no doubt a sweetener will be needed to get anyone here, plus house moving costs etc etc). Let's call it a £200k debacle. So much for austerity.

 

The HT refers to a 'joint statement' - where is it? The opposition groups REALLY NEED to get their act together and make some capital out of this - IOC website dormant since June, Independents dormant since the election!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The story from the opposition leaders is on page 5 of this weeks HT. I will be going to a meeting  of the Independents at 5pm tomorrow (Friday 9t Sept) any further news I will report here. Glenda

 

Yes, the article is there and it's quoting from a joint statement - where is the statement in full? Normally when a statement is issued to the press it gets edited down - the full statement should always be made available on the issuing party's website - this is a golden opportunity for the opposition to join forces and demand a vote of no confidence in Johnson and his cabal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, we finally get the press release dated 5 September published on the IOC website today;

 

16 September 2016

 

/0 Comments/in News /by PaulNeades

 

Director of Resources/Section 151 officer resigns.

On May 23rd 2016 members of Herefordshire Council were informed by the Chief Executive that the director of resources, Peter Robinson, had been suspended pending independent enquiries that were deemed necessary. The chief executive emphasised the importance of maintaining confidentiality and discretion while the enquiries were ongoing. Failing to do this would be, he said, potentially damaging both to the individual concerned, and to the integrity of any subsequent investigation.

On Friday September 2nd 2016 the chief executive formally announced that Mr Robinson had resigned as Director of Resources (S151 Officer) and Hoople MD designate with immediate effect in order to resume his career in interim management.

We the undersigned wish to make it publicly known that we have never been fully briefed in confidence about this very serious matter. It is our understanding that the only people who have been involved in this investigation have been the chief executive, the leader of the council and the council’s monitoring officer – with support from outside investigators. It is our considered opinion that it should be the norm for the council’s employment panel to be involved in such a matter, or at the very least for the panel to be consulted before a final decision is taken.

Elected members are understandably concerned at this turn of events but we recognise we are constrained by law as to what we can say publicly in such circumstances.

We do however feel that now the officer has resigned, Opposition Group Leaders – as elected members’ representatives, should be allowed far more information. Otherwise the general impression will continue to be “it’s all going on behind closed doors again…… so much for transparency and accountability… nothing changesâ€

Cllr Jenny Bartlett

Cllr Terry James

Cllr Bob Matthews

Cllr Anthony Powers

Opposition Group Leaders on Herefordshire Council

5 September 2016

 

I think we can safely assume now that those 'outside investigators' were, and continue to be, the Police. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I think we can safely assume now that those 'outside investigators' were, and continue to be, the Police. 

Possibly the Council's external auditors? What makes you think that Robinson is still under investigation? In the past the Herefordshire cops haven't shown any great inclination to investigate crime at the Council e.g. the widespread fraud that went on as part of the ICT scandal a few years back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 You could spend hours lost in the disjointed labyrinths of the Council's website trying to find who the monitoring officer is - I did, and I couldn't.

 

yes indeed TWG I found a Claire or from memory there is Dwayne or Duke or something who is partner in a law firm from the Northern direction and is doing a lot of work for HC

 

.Pete Boggs - well I do so hope he is under investigation he was handling public money - our money - and I doubt whether he was working alone

 

Perhaps Glenda could throw some light on all of this speculation - I often think speculation is a whole lot worse than the actual truth sometimes.  In fact why don't the people we pay to do a job stand up and make an honest no holes barred statement -

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dean Hulse of Hulse Yazdi is coining it in doing work for the Council after its abject failure to recruit any new lawyers following Bill  Norman's singularly inept restructure a few yeas back. Don't know if he's replaced Claire Ward as monitoring officer though. 

 

Not optimistic about Robinson being investigated - brushing wrongdoing under the carpet is the Herefordshire way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the report;

 

2. Matters in relation to related parties

  From the work we carried out, we identified one related party which was not disclosed. This was the South West Audit Partnership. The accounts have been updated for this accordingly.
 
8. Disclosure - Value £200k - Related Parties - The disclosure of related party transactions has been revised to include the South West Audit Partnership.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I promised to update you please see my post (14) above. All credit to Cllr Bob Matthews leader of the Independents in Herefordshire Council who is determined to get to the bottom of this, this is his piece in the HT this week.

 

QUOTE:

 

council rapped for financial errors.

 

SERIOUS  concerns raised about council finances have been addressed by an external auditor. Grant Thornton has completed its audit findings for Herefordshire Council and did not identify any significant control weaknesses. However, the audit did address errors made in council finance documents and said there were " lessons to be learnt".

The leader of Herefordshire Independents Councillor Bob Matthews joined fellow councillors in filing a report to the external auditors raising a number of, in their opinion, very serious issues. In particular they highlighted the manner in which major project finances are being recorded and monitored.

In response, the external auditors said:  "There are clearly lessons to be learned around quality control of financial reporting to committee. " It appears to us that these are errors, omissions and oversights rather than there being a deliberate intention to mislead".

The Hereford Times has previously reported how councillors had questioned the accuracy of the reported spend on the Hereford Link road project. Inconsistencies were noted  (by Cllr Matthews) between the spend in prior years reported in 2015/16 medium terms financial strategy (MTFS)  approved by council in February 2015, and that reported in the 2016/17 MTFS approved in February 2016.

Following a review of the relevant tables, it was found that the figures in the "spend in prior years" column of the 2015/16 MTFS had inadvertently included projected spend as well as spend to date. Councillors were given a revise figure of £10,658,000 up to March 31, 2016. But the council's Corporate budget report for the period up to the 31 march, presented to the cabinet in June, showed the total spend for the road project as £14,642,000. And on July 28 at a cabinet meeting, the Economic and Corporate Services report presented to cabinet reported that the earlier capital outturn report contained 23 inaccuracies, which resulted in another change to the spend figure on the capital programme of the city link road project. This latest report says that £6,917,000 was spent in 2015/16 and to the end of march 2016 it was £17,575,000.

Cllr Matthews, Cllr John Hardwick and Cllr Sebastian Bowen (Independents) submitted a freedom of Information request to the council asking for a detailed breakdown of the land and property acquisitions costs, and related expenditure in relation to the link road project.

In July the council said the spend-to-date on land associated compensation costs was £10.5m but refused to give a detailed breakdown of each acquisition and withheld this under section (2) of the freedom of Information act 2000.

 

END.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreed, all credit to Bob Matthews and the Independents for digging their heels in on this - not before time. Where are IOC? They seem to have slipped off the radar all together - do they still exist?

 

So, by my reading, we still don't know the real figures. Let's take the latest figure of £17.5m spend to date minus £10.5m land acquisition = £7m, presumably made up of fees and pre-start works, inc the world's most expensive hoarding at £800k, by Balfour - another nice unchallenged earner for them. That leaves a mere £9.5m to build the wretched thing if the oft quoted figure of £27m is to be believed. Could it possibly be the project will go over budget? Anyone know what the contractors tender figure was? Will we ever know with the Council repeatedly and arrogantly confirming its closed door policy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Not having a sub to the M J Co Uk I can only get the first couple of sentences to this article

Herefordshire quizzed over recent resignation

 

By Dan Peters | 27 September 2016

Opposition councillors have called for Herefordshire Council to explain the circumstances behind the resignation of its suspended director of resources.

The council has been tight-lipped about the case of Peter Robinson, with chief executive Alistair Neill pleading with councillors not to talk about the authority’s investigation into the former Bristol City Council finance director.

 

and this one

 

 

 

Council silence over resource director’s status

 

By Dan Peters | 06 July 2016

Herefordshire Council has refused to answer questions about the status of its director of resources Peter Robinson amid claims he has been suspended.

Emails to Mr Robinson have been generating an automatic request for them to be forwarded to his colleagues for weeks. The response read: ‘Peter Robinson is currently away from the office and emails are not being monitored.’

 

Anybody out there with the full report of either of these?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect it's not much more than a compilation of local media reports. Until someone from within the Council spills the beans in one way of another, this has been well and truly locked down by the closed doors cabal, which of course merely serves to highlight it and fuel speculation.

 

I note a temporary appointment to replace Mr Robinson has already been made on a mere £800 a day agency fee.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the full council meeting last Friday Cllr Bob Matthews verbally attacked the chairman in his request in regard to Mr Robinson  and that he was still waiting for his report from the external auditors, he was told by the chairman to put his question in regard to Mr Taylor appointment, the employment panel sanctioned the appointment with little or no information about Mr Taylor. But according to one social media outlet Mr Taylor is under investigation. Here we go again!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...