Tag Archives: Audit Committee

AUDIT WATCH

Brain

Ironic Name Brain in action

Our dear old friends at the council’s in-house financial watchdog, the AUDIT COMMITTEE, managed to excel even themselves in the totally-fucking-useless-and-incompetent stakes at their meeting in March to look at Green Capital spending.

Long touted as the moment that Bristolians would get the answers to their questions about what happened to the £8M OF PUBLIC MONEY spent on a year long jolly for the city’s ultra-privileged and their mates, the meeting was ineptly chaired by Labour’s Mark “Ironic Name” Brain. A man who increasingly resembles some sort of special needs case rather than a senior local politician.

Under Ironic Name Brain’s careful stewardship, members of the public were invited to ask their Green Capital questions to THIN AIR while direct questions from councillors on how public money was spent by the Green Capital’s private company, Bristol 2015 Ltd, also went UNANSWERED. Because nobody from Green Capital bothered to turn up for the first hour and a half of the agenda item!

However,Bristol 2015 Ltd chief exec, Nicola “LADY GAGA” Yates did finally put in an appearance but only after Deputy Mayor Geoff “Cods” Gollop admitted to our feisty and fearless independent financial watchdogs that he had personally undermined their authority and had instructed Bristol 2015 Ltd NOT TO ATTEND the meeting that he was only an invited guest at!

This blatant SABOTAGE by the mayor’s office of an independent committee of councillors did result in a mild rebuke to Gollop from Ironic Name. Although the obvious action of halting the DERANGED, HALF-ARSED MEETING immediately and arranging a proper public bollocking for Gollop and a proper meeting to investigate Bristol 2015 Ltd appeared way beyond Ironic Name’s abilities. Instead he ploughed on. Overseeing a farce.

Gaga’s performance, once she turned up, was undoubtedly the STAR COMIC TURN. The £192k a year council chief deciding to insist that she was only attending as Chief Exec of Bristol 2015 Ltd and couldn’t possibly answer any questions about the council she’s in charge of. Instead she redirected questions about the council to a HAPLESS MINION.

Meanwhile any questions directed by councillors to Gaga about Bristol 2015 Ltd were BATTED AWAY. “I don’t hold the data in my head,” she waffled. Neither did she have any data on a piece of paper, because, she claimed, she didn’t know about the meeting in advance and had only decided to pop in after seeing the meeting being webcast!

This RIDICULOUS CHARADE, performed under their noses by their most highly paid boss, passed without comment from the half-wits on the Audit Committee. And, after around two hours of aimless fucking about, the committee blandly concluded that “LESSONS NEEDED TO BE LEARNED“. Although what lessons or how the council will learn them is anybody’s guess as they didn’t bother to say.

All this meeting really demonstrated is that the only bigger waste of time and money than Bristol’s Green Capital is Bristol City Council’s Audit Committee. What are these wankers for?

MARKET FARCES: ‘REASONABLE’ LOSSES?

MarketsElsewhere in the latest markets report we’re assured that the OLD BENT MANAGEMENT of the service has now been moved on in favour of a new, young all-singing, all dancing team.

So how are the new team getting on? Well, a careful read of the report reveals they have managed to collect just 73 PER CENT of their total income for the year so far. This means over a quarter of the service’s income is going uncollected.

We calculate this amounts to a figure not unadjacent to £100K A YEAR that new bosses have failed to bank on our behalf.

Meanwhile Internal Audit assure us – after three years of constant work – that, “Controls are operating at an ACCEPTABLE level and management can take REASONABLE assurance that MANY of the risks to the service are effectively managed.”

Hardly fills you with confidence does it? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

MARKET FARCES: A WRITE OFF?

MarketsOur endless trudge through the city council’s farcically bent MARKETS SERVICE continues into another year …

Back in December, the authority’s ineffectual Internal Audit service dished up their FIFTH report in THREE YEARS about the service for the benefit of their gormless councillor overseers on the Audit Committee.

This time around, as well as the usual bland assurance that everything was improving, we got a wholesale REWRITING OF HISTORY. “An audit review of Markets operations was undertaken in November 2012,” they bluster.

And “Control weaknesses were particularly associated with two factors – the dominance of CASH COLLECTIONS, and utilisation of a dedicated and separate Markets ACCOUNTING SYSTEM which did not interface with the main finance system,” they blow.

An interesting theory … although unfortunately it’s total NONSENSE! Because the briefest glance at their audit opinion in 2012 says no such thing. It actually says that “a lack of urgency and willingness from MARKETS STAFF to quickly resolve all issues that were brought to their attention” was the problem.

Along with management’s FAILURE TO EXHIBIT OWNERSHIP of errors that contributed to the poor manual and electronic recording of financial and commercial transactions.”

In other words the problem was dodgy management and their criminally incompetent oversight of the service, especially its finances, not the “dominance of cash” or any technical issues with the accounting system.

The next paragraph of the latest report then blithely explains, “The Council’s debtors section is in the process of WRITING OFF HISTORICAL DEBT which is considered NON RECOVERABLE.”

In other words, money that simply disappeared without explanation due to the inexplicable actions of the OLD management is being quietly written off by the NEW management. Note also that the Internal Audit service have forgotten to tell us how much of our money is being written off.

In their last report they invented a so-say “DEBT“, apparently owed by no one, of £40k. Although the figure written into the council’s accounts in 2012 as “UNCOLLECTED LICENCE FEES” when they did their original investigation was as much as £165k.

So how much of our money have these clowns inexplicably lost and secretly written off? And why are they being so coy about it?

 

MARKETS: THE PERSISTENCE OF UNEXPLAINED AMOUNTS OF MISSING CASH

The Markets FileThe City Council’s Audit Committee chair MARK “NO” BRAIN’s presentation of his yearly report to Full Council in July proved to be hugely entertaining for public and councillors.

Sporting a dazzling Salvador Dali tie, perhaps to highlight the surrealism of it all, a visibly wriggling, flustered and confused No Brain finally had to come up – publicly – with an explanation as to what’s been going in the council’s MARKET SERVICE for the last three years and what his committee’s done about it. And what a gem of an explanation we got!

No Brain confirmed that at least £41k was indeed MISSING from the service. Although he creatively upcycled and rebranded this embarrassing and inexplicable disappearance of cash from his description last month of it as “A DEBT” (owed by no one) to a “NOT QUITE A LOSS“!

He then claimed – WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE – that the money definitely hadn’t been “misappropriated” and this “not-quite-a-loss” was the result of “mismanagement and bad accounting”.

Raising the immediate question of what the hell is “BAD ACCOUNTING” and how does it make £41k disappear into thin air?

Can we all do that? Or is it only city council middle managers who are allowed to run a set of accounts so shite that CASH CAN JUST RANDOMLY DISAPPEAR without any explanation and then get formally explained away by an idiot in a Salvador Dali tie as a “not-quite-a-loss”?

At least we’ve all now learned how to rip cash off the council. Just generally fuck up your accounts by inaccurately recording any cash going into those accounts; pocket the cash; forget to reconcile cash in the bank with your accounts and wait for the council’s Internal Auditors to formally sign it off as a “not-quite-a- loss” due to “mismanagement”!

This is all a change of tune from April, however, when finance bosses led by their Service Director Peter “What Crisis?” Gillett told No Brain and his committee of gullibles that the missing cash was “NOT thought to be the result of misappropriation or BAD MANAGEMENT

What’s changed since April? When did they decide that it was the fault of BAD MANAGEMENT? Are we seeing the wheels slowly coming off a poorly executed cover-up here as the excuses run out?

There’s plenty more questions to ask about all this too. Why are the council announcing this “not-quite-a-loss” now while a formal, FORENSIC AUDIT, announced in April, is still taking place? Until this audit is complete can the scale of their “not-quite-a-loss” really be officially confirmed?

So are council bosses still conspiring? This time to disguise any potentially bigger “not-quite-a-losses” from us?

An explanation is also needed about formal statements made on this matter over the summer of 2013 when both Mayor Bent Accounting and his sidekick Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty publically insisted NO MONEY WAS MISSING from the Market Service.

Another, further, outright lie came in 2012 when the BBC were assured ON THE RECORD by the council’s PR department that NO MONEY WAS MISSING in markets and the whole episode was entirely down to an “antiquated” accounting system (even though the system was only a few years old!)

Council PR boss, Tim “Zombie” Borrett then briefed this exact same LIE to the Nazi Post in March 2014 when the bent little fucker bravely tried to blame The BRISTOLIAN for the suicide of his dubious colleague, Facilities boss Tony Harvey. The man DIRECTLY ACCOUNTABLE for the accuracy and coherence of the Market Service’s accounts.

At that time Zombie Borett was PEDDLING A LINE for shadowy senior council bosses and the mayor that butter wouldn’t melt in the mouths of any Market Service managers. They were poor innocents and unfortunates who had been horribly hounded by unscrupulous forces on the internet!

Zombie Borett also “forgot” to mention during his briefing to the Post that any money had gone missing in the Market Service. Now the very same markets bosses Zombie was aggressively defending are being fingered by senior figures within the council for “MISMANAGEMENT” and “BAD ACCOUNTING“.

It’s all slowly coming out isn’t it?

That Mark “No Brain” explanation of missing Markets money to Full Council on 21 July 2015 in full:

The issue of markets has been of some public interest in, er, some quarters.

Um (pause). Basically (pause). Um, er, we had an issue around management in the markets and the, er, loss, er, or not quite the loss (pause). The fact that £41,000 of marketing money. Er, rather markets money was unaccounted for.

Um (pause). Internal audit have investigated. They are of the view they will never find the £41,000. Um, er. They are of the view it hasn’t been misappropriated. It was just mismangement and bad accounting and that’s the reason we can’t find it. Rather than it’s actually been stolen … um.

 

 

MARKETS: THE LATEST LIE

Web ExclusiveIt’s the story that never dies! Minutes finally published in late June for a meeting that took place on 24 April reveal that the council have discovered £41k in CASH is MISSING from their Markets Service. Just like The BRISTOLIAN’s been saying all along!

But how can this be? Didn’t Mayor Cover-Up and his trusty sidekick, Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty, publicly assure us all in 2013 that NO MONEY WAS MISSING from Markets and that the Bristolian needed to stop making unsubstantiated insinuations? !


Well, that’s now officially a load of bollocks – and not at all – according to Mayor Foot-in-Mouth’s own Audit Committee. They heard ADMISSIONS from the council’s over-promoted bog cleaner-in-chief Charlie “Gutbucket” Harding, the Chief Internal Auditors and the council’s finance boss, Peter “What Crisis?” Gillet, that, despite strenuous DENIALS stretching back over three years, at least £41k of CASH has in fact gone astray.

Not that sensitive council bosses put it quite as crudely as that. Instead they referred to “A DEBT” of £41k. Albeit a rather unusual cash “debt” that was authorised by no one and is owed by no one!

Indeed, most of us would say that this money is “unaccounted for” or “missing” or, even, “STOLEN”. But what’s some deliberately misleading SEMANTICS between senior council finance managers covering arse and councillors?

This motley collection of expert finance bosses, who have taken just three years to uncover a “debt” that was first pointed out to them by a whistleblower all that time ago, were also quick to assure councillors that the “debt” was “not thought to be the result of MISAPPROPRIATION or BAD MANAGEMENT“.

Really? So how did the cash disappear then? Did it float out of a safe and up to heaven one day? Did it spontaneously combust somewhere in St Nicks Market? Or perhaps their Market safe is a portal to another dimension and our money now lies safely beyond everyone’s reach?

These latest excuses from council bosses are RIDICULOUS. How the fuck can £41k of public money not be accounted for and it not be the fault of anyone? Do they take us all for fools?

Indeed, when pressed, the council’s USELESS pair of Chief Internal Auditors were forced to admit that they were “not able to determine what had happened to the money”! So quite how the pair of COVER-UP merchants can then state categorically that it’s nothing to do with “misappropriation or bad management” is anyone’s guess. Mainly theirs!

Mayor Cash Loss’s Tory cabinet finance chief, Geoff “Cods” Gollop, was even forced to wade in at the meeting. Blustering that “accounting systems have been changed to ensure that this situation is rectified for the future”. But what “situation” is he referring to? How exactly do you rectify an INEXPLICABLE OCCURRENCE?

At least councillors on the Audit Committee, after spending three years staring gormlessly into space listening to increasingly WILD EXPLANATIONS from finance bosses while their Markets Service was ripped off, may have finally woken up.

They’ve demanded a further report from their BENT finance chiefs by the autumn and demanded an update on the so-called “debt” for their next meeting.

But what happens next? Will anyone call the POLICE to investigate where our money is as it’s obvious our council has either no idea or is covering up what’s happened to it?

MARKET FARCES: WELCOME TO THE THIRD YEAR

The Markets FileJust two and a half years after serious issues were first raised by staff and over two years since any investigation was cynically SPIKED by council facilities boss Tony Harvey, the city council’s AUDIT COMMITTEE has finally woken up and requested a report into the crackpot finances at their Markets Service.

The committee requested the report in September although nothing appeared at their November meeting. Presumably it will appear at their meeting in January then? Unless more INEXPLICABLE DELAYS occur.

What’s the harm in a few more months of dodgy council bosses pissing about after over thirty months out in the long grass anyway? We note the report will be presented to the committee by the council’s overpromoted bog cleaner (surely senior facilities manager? Ed.) CHARLIE “DIRTBUSTER” HARDING.

Surely not the same Dirtbuster Harding we find listed as the chair of a recruitment panel for a wholly unnecessary Markets Service reorganisation devised on the back of an envelope by former Facilities boss Tony Harding back in the summer of 2012 right in the middle of a major audit investigation?

Indeed it is one and the same. Dirtbuster was even joined on this BIZARRE reorganisation and recruitment escapade by his old mate, Markets boss Steve Morris. Presumably taking some time away from DELETING £32k from his dodgy departmental accounts in the middle of the audit investigation that he didn’t bother cooperating with?

Morris, incidentally, was also at the centre of serious MISCONDUCT allegations by the very people he was interviewing. And according to our extensive files, Harding’s panel conveniently failed to reappoint any Markets Service complainants and whistleblowers to their own jobs. Who’d have guessed that?

Although the gormless duo, along with their idiot boss Harvey, later had to fork out PUBLIC MONEY in compensation to these same staff to avoid ending up at an employment tribunal and having to explain away their transparently bent recruitment process.

 It’ll be interesting to see if any of these facts make it into Dirtbuster’s independent report won’t it?

ABANDON SHIP AT THE ARNOLFINI AS ‘PHONEY WAR CONTINUES!

Never more than one overpriced, underperforming art installation away from self-inflicted disaster, the elitist arty-farties of Harbourside’s ‘contemporary art’ gallery ARNOLFINI really have been surpassing themselves over the last year or so.

Not only did they manage to lose an entire ‘Executive Team’ in the space of a month, but their tenants – spread over three voluminous floors of their prestigious, cash-generating Bush House headquarters – all quit. If that wasn’t enough, they then uncovered a large black hole in the finances of around £360K – and promptly FIRED THEIR OWN AUDITORS, Grant Thornton!

Meanwhile, a deranged “recovery plan” to convert the top three floors of the Bush House bunker – at public expense! – into an “art hotel” predictably flopped.

At the height of last autumn’s crisis, the place had to be run by a sub-committee of posh twits from the Analphoney board of trustees. That was because centre director TOM TREVOR was frogmarched off the premises in October so that he could, er, “pursue a number of international curatorial projects”! Presumably he didn’t have a family to “spend more time with”, then?

Trevor was escorted out the door right after the other half of the “executive team”, finance chief and our old friend BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN, was herself ‘disappeared’ from the organisation without explanation last August.

Brenda, you may recall, is currently vice-chair of Bristol City Council’s financial watchdog, the Audit Committee. So despite an organisation apparently sinking faster than the Titanic on her watch, she got a job overseeing sound financial practice at the council! (But then again, between 2009-2013 she notched up a not-to-be-sniffed-at £1,958.53 in expenses from the council, which suggests a certain amount of flair…)

You may recall that Brenda – she of the £800k Clifton Wood mansion – was a candidate at the last election for George Ferguson’s INDYREDPANTS PARTY, promising that she was going “to shake things up” at the Council House. Well, she’s certainly managed to shake things up at the ‘Phoney!

Other victims of the mass clear out include colourfully-named former chair LOVEDAY SHEWELL. She quietly left after six years in the post in July 2012. Although oddly, despite the UK’s arty-fartie-bore-in-chief Sir Nicolas Serota describing the ‘Phoney as “one of a handful of the most significant cultural centres in Europe,” Ms Shewell has mysteriously left her time with the gallery off her extensive CV. Why could that be?

Meanwhile, that renowned patron of the arts, business genius and financial whiz – MAYOR FERGO himself – hastily quit his post on the board of trustees in December 2012.

Demonstrating, yet again, that George’s instinct for survival outstrips his business acumen by some way.

MARKETS: IT’S LIKE THE FIRST WORLD WAR!

Web Exclusive‘It’ll all be over by Christmas,’ city council bean counters promised us in September 2013 about their dodgy Market Service and it’s never ending financial scandal:

Markets 1

Alas, it hasn’t quite gone to plan (again). Here’s their audit report for February 2014:

Markets2

“Positive direction of travel”? What of? Our money in to bosses’ pockets?

Meanwhile in the trenches … The next issue of The Bristolian is on the streets next week and we’ll be looking at this Markets nonsense and a recent tragic turn of events in considerable detail. Prepare to be SHOCKED!!!

BRISTOL’S MAYOR THROWS A WOBBLY OVER YOUR HUMBLE ‘SMITER’: RED-FACED RED PANTS DOESN’T GET THE BIG PICTURE

This man RUNS OUR CITY!

This man RUNS OUR CITY!

“YOU could hear him yelling with rage at the other end of the corridor,” says our man on the third floor at Shitty Hall. And the reason for the RED-TROUSERED LOTHARIO’s tantrum?

Well, it seems some wag put a copy of our last issue, The BRISTOLIAN #4.8, on the nightmayor’s desk with a friendly post-it note asking, “WOULD YOU LIKE A FRAMED COPY?”

The furious farce-meister was not amused – and had to be calmed by bag-carriers, who persuaded him that sending the note for HANDWRITING ANALYSIS would make him look like even more of an idiot!

Elsewhere at Shitty Hall, one worker put in some quality overtime. Carefully copying our last issue, placing them in envelopes with lovingly printed address labels and posting them to council managers via internal mail!

And a shout out to our distro team too who popped in to the latest Audit Committee meeting at Shitty Hall at 9.30am on Friday 8 November, just to hand a copy to every committee member so they were properly informed about the mess they’re overseeing!

Obviously panicking council officers called the police! On arriving, and learning what this ’emergency’ was, a police officer pointed out to the pant-wetting councillors and managers that going to a public meeting isn’t yet a crime.

And as for the newspaper? “You don’t have to read it,” they explained.

INDYREDPANTS’ UNWISE MONKEY’S HORROR NO-SHOW

Word reaches us that BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN is no longer the Finance boss at the Arnolfini arts centre by the Floating Harbour. Sources there have been keen to distance themselves from her for some reason, and have been at pains to emphasise that they parted ways in October. Why could that be?

Whilst not boasting the same name recognition as His Redtrouserness, you may remember McLennan from her unsuccessful bid for a council seat back in May, when she ran as the public-spirited, politically independent candidate in Clifton for the INDYREDPANTS PARTY, that ragbag of gormless cheerleaders for King George.

What you might not know is that this ‘outsider’ to Bristol’s local politics is also now the Deputy Chair of the City Council’s Audit Committee – which is responsible for ensuring sound management of our money and clamping down on fraud and corruption within BCC. If nothing else, this unusual appointment of one of the Mayor’s keenest public supporters brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘politically independent’.

Certainly Ms McLennan (who has racked up thousands of pounds in expenses) has wasted no time in showing the kind of gumption needed to “shake things up” at Shitty Hall by, err… Not turning up for the most important Audit Committee meeting of year!

That’s right, for reasons unknown, Ms Mclennan – one of only two people providing allegedly independent oversight of council finances – failed to show at the Committee meeting in September, where the council’s audited accounts for the 2012-13 were agreed and signed off (without a hitch, natch).

Also on the agenda at the meeting was the report from the council’s Internal Audit Department cataloguing the series of gross financial failures across the organisation. These included theft, wholesale non-compliance with procurement regulations, dodgy management of cash accounts and – even – a very special mention for The BRISTOLIAN’s bête noire, Facilities Service Manager Tony ‘Toerag’ Harvey’s bent Markets Service!

So nothing there that would in any way interest an independent election candidate who wants to “shake things up” at Bristol City Council then!