The recent Audit Committee meeting revealed that the Chairman (Councillor Axam) has his head in the sand as he tried to resist following up on the actions the committee had requested at its previous meeting. Councillor Southern tried for several minutes to insist that the Staffing Committee Chairman and the Leader of the Council be brought back to explain what actions they had taken as a result of the devastating Shapley Heath Audit Report. The chairman attempted to avoid the follow up taking place.
He first said he didn’t know what stage the Cabinet had reached in its investigations. Surely this is even more reason for the Leader to come back and explain. It was pointed out to the Chairman that the first (failed) request for an Internal Audit of Shapley Heath was made in July 2022, it didn’t get commissioned until December 2021 and then the report was made available in early July 2022. Now, nearly 4 months later precious little action has taken place. None of the actions agreed by the Staffing Committee have been published, so nobody knows what’s going on there. The Cabinet is going to miss its own self-imposed deadline of providing a comprehensive report at its November meeting. The internal management action plan has been provided only as a verbal update, with no actual corrective actions identified. Yet, Councillor Axam insisted that there were no “delaying tactics”.
Councillor Axam then agreed with Councillor Smith that the responses from Staffing Committee and Cabinet need not come back to Audit Committee. This is quite astonishing as Dave Neighbour, Leader of the Council (and Cabinet) has said he doesn’t accept the Audit Report findings.
Shapley Heath Follow Up Must Return to Audit Committee
The Chairman was then somewhat embarrassed by one of the officers. The officer pointed out the minutes agreed as accurate a few minutes earlier had stated that Cabinet and Staffing Committee should provide a response to the Audit Committee.
Now the draft minutes of the meeting show that the Leader will be asked to attend Audit Committee in March 2023 if no adequate response has been provided in the meantime. The exchange is shown in the video below:
Audit Committee Chairman Cannot Do Arithmetic
Earlier in the meeting, there was an hilarious exchange where the Chairman inadvertently revealed that he’s no good at arithmetic. He said the audit fees were rising from £80K to £250K and described it as a 150% increase. In fact an increase from 80 to 250 is a 212.5% increase. Councillor Axam was pulled up on his error by another member of the Committee. It’s reasonable to expect that the Chairman of the Audit Committee be able to do basic arithmetic.
The full exchange on this topic can be found on the video below: