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Lib Dems call for release of £25,000 “invisible” financial report for Surrey County Council

March 7, 2017 4:05 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Cllr Hazel Watson at Boxhill

Cllr Hazel Watson

Liberal Democrat county councillors are calling for the release of an "invisible" report, for which the Conservative administration at County Hall paid nearly £25,000.

The report was quoted in the papers for the council's budget meeting on 7th February and relates to a "financial resilience review" which was carried out in November 2016 by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) at the request of the Leader of the Council, and cost £24,500.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said:

"I have asked the county council for a copy of this report and the response I have received is that the Conservative Cabinet has only received an oral version and has not yet received a written copy. It is absolutely astonishing that the Conservative administration can pay nearly £25K for just an oral report on such an important matter as the council's finances and four months after the work was done, there is still no written report.

"I would have expected such a review to have been available before the budget meeting of the council for all councillors and Surrey residents to read, to get an independent view of the council's financial position. It begs the question - what has the Conservative administration at County Hall got to hide about the council's finances?

"I am calling for this report to be made available immediately so that councillors and Surrey residents can benefit from the information and judge for themselves whether it was value for money to pay almost £25K for this review which told the County Council what it already knew.

"In short: the Leader of the Council commissioned a review for almost £25K on the financial resilience of the county council in November 2016, which after 4 months has resulted in an oral report, with nothing in writing, and which is not available to either councillors or residents. This is simply not good enough".

Notes:

1. The CIPFA resilience review is referred to in the Council's budget report here (p24):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/s35291/item%2005%20-%20FCC%20Council%20tax%20setting%20report%202017-18.pdf

2. Cllr Watson's question to Cabinet requesting the CIPFA review to be published is here (p10):

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/g5104/Decisions%20Tuesday%2028-Feb-2017%2014.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=2