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Letter: The KPMG Report Does Not Tell the Whole Burchatts Barn Story

Published on: 19 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2020

From Gordon Bridger

hon alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

In response to: Exposed – How Tory Borough Council Mishandled Burchatts Barn Lease

Councillors should be aware that in March 2020 at the request of Cllr Maddy Redpath, I had a meeting with the council’s internal auditor. I was surprised that the council were going to investigate but told they did not want a repeat of the ‘Wisley row’.

After many months of badgering, I was able to obtain information that the council were employing consultants KPMG, who were also responsible for advising GBC on finance.

The version of the report published ahead of tonight’s meeting does not mention the email from Cllr Manning to me which admitted that Cllrs Furniss and Nelson-Smith had been informed of the proposal to grant a lease to a commercial organisation. Neither did it mention that he had approved granting a lease before the required planning permission was obtained.

Councillor Davis stated in an email to me and the two ward councillors that the decision would go to the Executive. When I discovered it hadn’t been approved by the Executive, Cllr Manning said he had made the decision under delegated authority.

This was confirmed recently by Cllr Davis in The Guildford Dragon NEWS but it seems there was an informal meeting of the Executive.

This report does not reveal any of these details and it is quite shocking that a democratic council should be authorising leases on valuable assets in such a cavalier manner. Why was a report sent out without identifying those approving of the proposal or under what authority?

Editor’s comment: It was stated by Claire Morris, director of finance at GBC during the Corporate Governance & Standards Committee meeting on November 19 that KPMG does not provide financial advice to the council.

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test 3 Responses to Letter: The KPMG Report Does Not Tell the Whole Burchatts Barn Story

  1. S Callanan Reply

    November 19, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    On page 12 of the KPMG report there’s a note of the names of the seven people with whom “discussions” were held as part of the review. The only serving councillor mentioned is Cllr Maddy Redpath.

    Cllrs Davis, Nelson-Smith, Furniss and Manning did not, apparently take part.

    I’m happy to be corrected if I’ve misunderstood.

  2. John Murphy Reply

    November 19, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    What is all the fuss about?

  3. John Perkins Reply

    November 20, 2020 at 10:04 am

    There is, perhaps, a clue to the anodyne nature of the report in the introduction on page 14. The auditors are “delighted” and “proud” to be working closely with GBC as “co-sourced internal audit professionals”.

    With the possibility of a return to power of the individuals involved at some time in the future, internal auditors are in the same position as employees.

    It begs the question: can internal auditors ever be completely independent?

    To be truly independent an investigation should be conducted by a body with no past or future involvement.

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