Recently, we have heard of further attempts by Hart Council officers to create a Shapley Heath whitewash.
Apparently the CEO tried to bounce the Conservative members into a “roundtable” meeting to discuss: “What better member scrutiny arrangements could have supported the project and how member oversight could be improved”
The meeting with a representative of the Local Government Association was due to take place in January. The proposal for the roundtable did not include a Terms of Reference (ToR) or even an agenda. As far as we can see, the issues weren’t about the the lack of scrutiny arrangements nor lack of information. The governance arrangements were not followed and the bad information provided was not acted upon. The responsibility for that rests solely with the Chairman, Councillor Cockarill. Heaven knows what the other Cabinet members were thinking or doing.
The roundtable proposal fell somewhat short of the demand by the Audit Committee that Cabinet provide: “A response to the management recommendations contained within the Shapley Heath Audit Review report, and to review the application of project governance, financial controls, and reporting for the Shapley Heath project and to provide a response to Audit Committee on lessons learnt”.
We understand that the Conservative members of the Opportunity Board have refused to attend the meeting. They are unhappy that the proposal does not include a suitable ToR and no agenda has been prepared.
Over £800K has been squandered on the project, with nothing to show for it. They reluctantly agreed to an audit of the project, shirked responsibility and then rejected its findings. It beggars belief that the Cabinet, supported by the CEO, are still trying to wriggle out of responsibility. They don’t seem to be even trying to address the questions asked by Audit Committee.