The Rev Rees’s only response to his ‘BUNDRED REPORT‘ into the state of the city council’s finances, released last week, has so far been a vague promise – delivered on-trend via Youtube – that everything will be sorted out by 2020.
“Don’t worry, there’s not much to see here really,” implies Marvin and his gormless gang of soft-headed Labour councillors.
BOLLOCKS. The Reverend is intensely relaxed only because he isn’t much interested in engaging with the DETAIL of his own report. Specifically he appears to be overlooking the fact that his 30 most senior officers sitting on something called ‘The Change Board’ withheld MATERIALLY SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL INFORMATION regarding their ‘Single Change’ savings programme from councillors and the legally responsible Section 151 Finance Officer of Bristol City Council in JANUARY 2016.
This resulted in councillors setting an INCORRECT BUDGET last year. Councillors stated the council would need £345 million in 2016/17 to balance the budget when senior officers knew perfectly well that they would need £374 million to do this.
All 30 bosses on the ‘Change Board’ – who are contractually (and ethically) OBLIGED to report MATERIAL MISSTATEMENTS in the council’s accounts and tell councillors the truth – knew this was the case on 16 January 2016. However they collectively decided to withhold this information from councillors, who proceeded to set an incorrect budget on 16 February 2016. Many of those same officers would have even sat in the very meeting where councillors set the wrong budget.
Of course, there was a MAYORAL ELECTION due to take place in May 2016 and it’s quite possible that this huge £29m deficit – run up under, then, Mayor Bent Redpants – could prove to be a massive electoral liability to the sitting mayor.
Did the council’s 30 most senior bosses (who are required to be POLITICALLY NEUTRAL) try to INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF AN ELECTION then? And is anyone going to bother to find out more or are we supposed to pretend it hasn’t happened and let this gang of high-earning council officer crooks off the hook?
The Rev Rees is also overlooking the incompetence and/or mendacity of his CHIEF INTERNAL AUDITORS, Alison “Mullet” Mullis and Melanie “Joe” Henchy-McCarthy too. These are the couple of oafs paid good money by us to ensure that financial wrongdoing doesn’t happen at the council.
So why did this pair of idiot auditors give the basketcase ‘Single Change Programme’ a clean bill of health and a ‘GOOD‘ rating in July 2015 when it was plainly apparent to anyone allowed to look that it wasn’t delivering the savings that it should be?
And why, in November 2015, did Mullet and Joe Henchy-McCarthy allow the bosses in charge of the ‘Single Change Programme’ to REWRITE a further Internal Audit report for the council’s Audit Committee so that that the committee was told in January 2016 that the Single Change Programme was operating at an ‘ACCEPTABLE’ level? In fact the programme was FAILING to the tune of £29 million as all the bosses and this pair of auditors knew perfectly well.
While the Reverend Rees waffles away on Youtube about 2020 and his Labour minions soil their pants over The Bristolian’s cover artwork, some of the city’s residents are now doing their jobs for them and starting to ask some PERTINENT QUESTIONS.
Especially regarding what was going on with senior council bosses (the overwhelming majority of whom continue to work at the council) and the council’s finances in 2015 and 2016?
There’s a selection of those questions below. What will the answers be we wonder?
Why not send your own email? Here’s the email addresses you may wish to send your enquiry to:
email@example.com – Finance Director and Section 151 Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org – New Chief Executive who’s promising to sort the financial mess out
email@example.com – Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer (responsible for all council legal matters and reporting matters to the police if appropriate)
firstname.lastname@example.org – Marvin Rees, the mayor
email@example.com – Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Performance (claims to be in charge of finances for the council)
Plus, include your local councillors in the email. Their email address can be found at: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1
And please copy in The BRISTOLIAN: firstname.lastname@example.org
From: ian robinson [mailto:xxxx]
Sent: 13 February 2017 19:43
To: Shahzia Daya; Mayor’s Office Mayor’s Office; Editor at Bristol News; The Bristolian .; Steven Norman; Charlotte LESLIE; Councillor Donald Alexander; Councillor Jo Sergeant
Subject: Section 151 Officer – attempt to influence election
I am writing to you to raise a concern that recent information released to the press regarding the £29 million deficit within council budgets was suppressed from the public, Mayor and Cllrs in the run up to both the Mayoral and local elections. It would appear to me (a reasonable man) that there would appear to have been a co-ordinated attempt to influence the election results by suppressing the scale of the budgetary deficit.
As I believe you are the Section 151 officer now for BCC can you comment on the councils position regarding this matter? Has any report been forwarded to Avon and Somerset Police of the situation with a request to investigate?
If you could avail me of the current situation I would be grateful,
From: Editor <xxxx>
Sent: 13 February 2017 21:57
To: ‘ian robinson’; ‘Shahzia Daya’; ‘Mayor’s Office Mayor’s Office’; ‘The Bristolian .’; ‘Steven Norman’; ‘Charlotte LESLIE’; ‘Councillor Donald Alexander’; ‘Councillor Jo Sergeant’
Subject: RE: Section 151 Officer – attempt to influence election
Given the volume of pro-George Ferguson articles & comment orchestrated by Bristol 24/7 and Mike Norton’s Bristol Post, which followed on the heels of this ‘willful forgetfulness’ by Bristol City Council Strategic Directors, Bristol News would be interested in learning more about what the council feels was the level of collaboration between Council officers, George Ferguson and his election campaign team and the two ‘directors’ of these two intriguing local newspapers.
We could go through and count and list every single article but there are so many it would simply be too long a list.
We’d be keen to learn more about the level of collusion that may, or may not, have gone on, during the February to May 2016 period. Free and fair elections is not a lofty goal it should be the standard Bristol City Council are committed to achieve. BCC fell really short last May and we’d like an explanation as to the reason why.
From: steven norman <email@example.com>
Sent: 14 February 2017 20:11
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: SECTION 151 OFFICER – ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE ELECTION
Dear Ms Murray and Ms Klonowski
Perhaps someone could confirm whether Bristol City Council will be formally requesting that their external auditors conduct a Public Interest Investigation into the following:
– the 30 senior officers/Change Board that withheld information from councillors and the S151 officer that resulted in a material misstatement in the 2015 – 16 accounts and material misstatements in the budget for 2016 – 17 agreed by Full Council in February 2016.
– The Chief Internal Auditors who, in April 2015, found the Change Programme governance arrangements to be ‘good’. A perverse conclusion entirely at odds with the Bundred Report.
– The Chief Internal Auditors over a further Internal Audit report produced in November 2015 and finally published in December 2015 – ‘Change Programme: Financial Benefits Realisation” – that reported ‘acceptable’ levels of control across all areas of the Change Programme after the report was altered by the following officers: Change Services Manager, Service Director, Business Change & ICT, and Strategic Director, Business Change.
– The Chief Internal Auditors presenting the December 2015 report above to the Audit Committee in summary form and with no indication it had been substantially rewritten by officers/managers running the failing Change Programme.
Mr Stephen Norman