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Lambeth Council accused of wasting ‘millions of pounds’ after independent scrutiny

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by editor, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    This is well worth a read. Its findings are deeply troubling.

    Lambeth Council accused of wasting ‘millions of pounds’ after independent scrutiny highlights Town Hall financial waste
     
  2. sparkybird

    sparkybird ask the bird...

    Thanks for posting this up. I've heard from several sources about contractors over charging for work on estates, and it seems like this has been confirmed.
     
    Pickman's model and editor like this.
  3. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    It'd be interesting to know whether the double-billing has been down to ineptness, conspiracy or a bit of both.
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  4. phillm

    phillm Trolling through Life (TM)

    A damning report indeed which smells of a combination of corruption and inepetitude with the emphasis on corruption. It can't be long before the national media pick up on this. This stink will run and run. I imagine Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs will be the first for the off.

    UK's best-paid primary headteacher suspended amid fraud inquiry
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  5. sparkybird

    sparkybird ask the bird...

    I was told that the contactors under priced to get the job and then 'found' lots of extra and unecessary work which they changed at highly inflated prices to bump up the contract.
    With exactly the same work 'required' in each property.... Did the council not think this we a bit odd? Or maybe they never checked....

    And that they tried to complete the contracted work so quickly to save man hours that it wasn't carried out properly. I know someone who complained about this and he was taken off the job.
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  6. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    Dear Councillor,

    Please read the attached report.

    You have failed dismally to do the job you were elected to do.

    You have two choices:
    1 Sack the cabinet in its entirety and appoint a new one that is neither corrupt nor useless.
    2 Resign.

    Now. This week.

    No ifs, not buts, no excuses.
     
    shygirl likes this.
  7. bimble

    bimble Is it Spring yet?

    Not surprised but just a bit angrier than i was before.
    Not a single penny have they got to put toward child and youth services but a hundred million for the new town hall? No probs.
    Good work the people who did this research.

    eta: Look at page 10 of the report on the massive apparent undervaluing of the assets the council sells off to developers. This is painful to see, knowing as we do that they plan to continue selling off essential things (like adventure playgrounds) claiming to have no choice. If they do this without even getting a fair price or competitive bids for them its even worse.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
    equationgirl, editor and phillm like this.
  8. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    I've heard exactly the same story about two of Lambeth's main four contractors, from subbies.

    As a sparks, you'll probably wince at the story I'm about to relate: An elderly neighbour called Lambeth's call centre because she had a constantly-flickering light. An "electrician" was sent out, who proceeded to remove the pendant and open the box without isolating the circuit, and when challenged, said "what is light circuit?". Some of the sub-subbies that get used are handymen, not ticketed trades-persons, and that almost guarantees multiple call-outs to the same address, so even without contractors charging for work not done/double-booking, they still generate extra income by using cheap subbies who don't do anything that isn't a temporary bodge.

    Now, council officers and Councillors are supposed to choose tenders based on "best value", but the formula for Lambeth seems to be basing their choice on cost. The problem for us with that is that cheap tenders are usually - over the long term - the most expensive.
     
  9. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Individual Councillors - or indeed even a block of Councillors - have very little power to hold cabinet to account. Cabinet governance in Lambeth is particularly nasty given Labour's current majority. It means that from 2010 they've pretty much held ALL cabinet positions, and have acted accordingly - like a single party state.
    The only solution to this, to stop the railroading of democracy in Lambeth, is to petition (using clauses in the council's constitution) for a return to governance by full council. It won't stop issues around Labour winning a heavy majority, but it will mean that policy has to be debated openly, rather than the backroom politics (or rather Lib Peck phoning her coterie) that currently dominate, and would make dissent easier for the few Labour Councillors who aren't craven Progress lapdogs or time-servers.
     
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  10. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Lambeth Council are notorious for selling off assets cheap (often to developers who turn out to be "friends" of Councillors or council officers a few years down the line) and for not tendering work but awarding it illegally (yep, it's illegal to not put work out to tender over a certain value (£2000 last time I checked, but may be more now) - probably the most notorious council this side of the Thames.
    You can only blame so much of such behaviour on ineptness or under-staffing before it starts to look like a policy of corrupt practices.
     
    equationgirl and Pickman's model like this.
  11. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    I agree with that. The cabinet system of local government has drastically streamlined decision taking resulting in much less accountability even in a balanced council.
    With a one party state there is no scope for debate or challenge.
     
    ddraig likes this.
  12. sparkybird

    sparkybird ask the bird...

    I've just emailed my local Councillors asking what the Councils repose to allegations of wasting my council tax will be..... not holding my breath....
     
  13. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    probably more sensible than my intemperate approach, but hey, they need a full range of opinion :)
     
  14. sparkybird

    sparkybird ask the bird...

    So I've heard back from one of my Councillors (pretty much straight away).

    "I accept that this is worrying document. As it is so detailed however it will take the Council some time to to prepare a detailed response to the individual allegations.
    However I understand that the allegations have all been thoroughly looked into by the independent auditor, who did not uphold any of them.
    I am also looking into the matter myself. I will keep you updated with the more formal responses as they come out."

    I asked for more information about the independent auditor... still waiting

    I'm wondering if the independent auditor is actually the company that 'should be' auditing Lambeth, KPMG. In which case no surprise that they didn't uphold any of the allegations
     
  15. agricola

    agricola a genuine importer of owls

    From the report:

    A "Big Four" accountancy firm giving a clean bill of health to someone who compensates it well? I can't believe that would happen in this day and age.

    :facepalm:
     
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  16. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Yes, the "independent auditor" is indeed the same company that gets a big "fail" in The People's Audit for failing to bring to light all the clusterfucks. As I know a couple of the folks doing The People's Audit work in that field themselves, albeit not for Big Four companies, they weren't impressed by KPMG's replies. Reckoned they were waffling to get past the fact that they passed Lambeth's accounts unqualified.

    In terms of Lambeth's response, this has been interesting, not to say informative. They've clammed up tight, so they're obviously worried, and are attempting to find a cohesive response. I strongly suspect that part of that response will be to monster members of The People's Audit (Lambeth) team as political activists and trouble-makers. Don't believe a word of it, if they go down that avenue.
     
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  17. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.


    One hand washes the other. :)
     
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  18. CH1

    CH1 "Red Guard"(NLYL)

    Its just become like business audits - except in the corporate world you are expected to change your big four auditor every five years.
     
  19. sparkybird

    sparkybird ask the bird...

    So this was an item on the Sunday Politics Show - here's the link, it starts at 55 minutes in
    Sunday Politics London, 17/07/2017
    The BBC were prevented from filming at Cressingham Gardens by Lambeth
    The Council's response in a nutshell "The report was prepared by opposition political parties in order to rubbish Labour"
     
  20. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

  21. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    It was hilarious watching Simon and Tom burst into laughter when told what Lambeth were saying. The People's Audit isn't party-political. It'd have gone in just as hard if the legislation had existed 2006-2010 when the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition in Lambeth fucked us all over.
     
  22. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    Someone's middle-aged memory is failing.

    The Lib-Dem-Tory Lambeth coalition was way back in 2002-2006 when a group of seven Tories supported 28 Lib Dems.
     
  23. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    There's absolutely no doubt that my middle-aged memory is failing! Even worse for the Tories and Lib-Dems that over a decade has passed and many people still say "fuck that, never again!" about giving them access to power.
     
  24. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    That was an easy prediction to make. :)
     
  25. phillm

    phillm Trolling through Life (TM)

    Don't know if this has been picked up elsewhere but here is the official response. Tis the Panglossian response one would have expected.

    Love Lambeth
     
    agricola likes this.
  26. agricola

    agricola a genuine importer of owls

    I especially like response five, which is perhaps the finest example of a modern political sentence that one could hope to find:

    * that was the discount that Lambeth's own valuation team came up with; the one from the Audit suggested it could have been as much as six million more than they actually received.
    ** the Audit suggests the flats went on the market for prices ranging from £256,000 to £360,000. So "affordable" means "affordable to two people in full time employment making £40,000 a year each".
    *** Pocket Living have had £26.4 million in grants/loans off the GLA and are about to get another £25 million (announced after Lambeth published this response). The point that the Audit actually made was how is it that Pocket Homes seems to make a loss every year - despite its ownership, offshore status and the largesse of the state (discounted property, interest-free loans).
    **** Anyone would think on reading this sentence that they weren't actually to blame for developments not containing 100% of affordable (never mind social) housing units.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
    equationgirl, editor, CH1 and 2 others like this.
  27. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

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