Hertfordshire’s council taxpayers will be unimpressed to hear that the County Council has been forced to write off £22.2m worth of Council assets, leaving just £0.5m in their report.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Allan Witherick was astounded by the figures:
‘We expect the occasional accounting error to come up when an item isn’t worth as much as expected, but to take the entire book value of £22.7m and be forced to reduce it to just £0.5m when an Auditor checks the details just beggars belief. About the only upside is that it’s unlikely the Council will have to do this again, as so little is left!’
Councillor Ron Tindall, who also attended the committee meeting at which the details were revealed, added his concerns, stating:
‘It really doesn’t help that the Auditor’s report it clearly says that the Tory-run County Council did some Internal Audit checking and in 13 of the 33 tests undertaken they found that things hadn’t been done properly. That’s just a frightening figure, especially when the Council is going through such a period of extensive change.
‘Last year, the Council’s accounts were in such a mess that we had to pay more to get them sorted out, and the external Auditor has already indicated that he might have to charge the Tory-run Council, and ultimately the tax payer, more to get to the bottom of things again this year.’
The Conservative-run County Council also failed to fulfil its legal obligation to advertise the accounts to the public, raising concerns about the amount of time available for people to scrutinise the numbers in depth.
Chris White, Lib Dem Group leader on the County Council, said:
‘This is just one example of the mess the Council’s accounts are in, but to fail to comply with the legal requirements on transparency, which exist so that public can understand where their money is spent, raises a whole set of other questions entirely. Just how widespread is the Council’s failure to provide information to local taxpayers?’