Cambridgeshire #farmgate report stays beneath wraps

A county councilor says he and different committee members have been threatened with authorized motion in the event that they voted to launch a confidential report.

Cllr Peter Hudson revealed the authorized menace throughout Friday’s audit and accounts committee taking into consideration the findings of a 400-page report.

The report revealed what occurred when the council supplied the lease of Manor Farm, Girton, to Deputy Council Chief Roger Hickford.

Mr Hickford has already left the farm and resigned from the board, however the committee has been warned it can’t be launched at the moment.

Cllr Hudson briefly referred to the warning given to them in personal.

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“I feel we should always all contemplate very fastidiously, Mr. Chairman, the recommendation we acquired from our two attorneys this morning and from one lawyer this morning,” he stated.

“They suggested that this be all in personal for the explanations they gave – authorized causes, together with private litigation safety for members of this committee.

Confronted with the menace, the committee voted restrictively to debate the report’s suggestions on the administration of its 33,000 acres and 200 tenants.

However the bulk of the report – 97 p.c of the 400 pages – was shielded from public scrutiny after six of the seven councilors agreed. The dissenting voice was that of committee chairman Mike Shellens, who shortly resigned consequently.

Mazars accomplished the report after the council’s chief inside auditor took sick depart days earlier than its scheduled finish in December.

Nigel Layton of Mazars stated, “For readability, we have now not re-performed the audit work or the fact-checking carried out by inside audit.

“Nonetheless, we appeared on the work executed and the proof obtained, and we additionally took under consideration some codes of conduct and disciplinary points.”

Council chief Steve Rely stated after the assembly that 11 separate suggestions ponder additional motion on monetary, transparency and conduct issues.

These, he stated, can be taken under consideration as a part of the members’ code of conduct and as a part of the disciplinary proceedings of officers.

He stated: “The audit committee is accountable for making it public, not me, I used to be not concerned in any of the processes or recommendation given to them.

“That is to make sure that there isn’t any declare of interference on my half; all I can do is comply with their lead and use no matter they determine to place within the public area. ”

Cllr Rely stated per week earlier that he had made his place clear in a public assertion noting that “after studying the report I had two conferences with Cllr Hickford to think about the implications for the board, exterior of the competence of the committee.

“Following these conferences, Cllr Hickford requested me to simply accept his resignation from my submit of Deputy Chief and Council Member with rapid impact.”.

Cllr Rely stated on Friday: “I’d add that anybody who understands native authorities is aware of that the penalties for a code of conduct listening to, coaching and / or a warning, if any, can be a lot much less extreme. than this outcome. ”

An announcement from the county council stated: “The audit concluded that the right procedures have been adopted not solely with regard to the method of awarding the tenancy, but additionally with regard to the approval of the works of the constructing. further extension for the lodging of the mansion.

“Nonetheless, different severe considerations have been raised because of the in depth audit investigation.”

The assertion added: “Cambridgeshire County Council is a company the place, when considerations are raised, they’re correctly and pretty investigated.

“He seeks to study classes from what’s discovered, to take motion the place it’s wanted and, most significantly, to place measures in place to forestall them from occurring once more.

“All of the members of the committee insisted on the truth that this ethic ought to prevail with regard to this significantly essential and far-reaching audit.”

The assertion concluded that Chief Government Officer Gillian Beasley had personally overseen the progress of the audit since late final yr.

“She confirmed that the board absolutely accepts all the audit findings and proposals,” the assertion stated.

“Actions on many suggestions are already underway and a follow-up assembly of the audit and accounts committee to look at the progress of all these actions will happen on March 23.”

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