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Normandy Parish Audit Reveals ‘Breakdown In Control’ by Former Council

Published on: 4 May, 2021
Updated on: 6 May, 2021

By Hugh Coakley and Martin Giles

Normandy Parish Council suffered “a breakdown in internal control and the standards expected”, says an audit report now published on the council’s website.

The audit was commissioned by the interim council, and signed off on April 22. It appears to call into question both the competence and the financial probity of the previous council.

The highly critical audit concludes: “A full review of all controls will be required once a new council has been appointed.”

The publication follows the resignation of eight of the nine parish councillors and a takeover in March by the interim council made up almost entirely by borough councillors.

After The Guildford Dragon NEWS ran stories of apparent failure to comply with rules about audit reports and corrective measures, some councillors found the treatment of David Bilbe, Normandy’s borough councillor, intolerable at the January parish council meeting.

See earlier stories on Normandy Parish Council here.

Quotes from the audit, which names the present clerk, Mr Leslie Clarke, as the Responsible Financial Officer (RFO), include:

  • “Voucher 7 – £8,422 – work to complete roadway for ISO container did not go out to tender”;
  • “No formal purchase order process”;
  • “Vouchers 141 & 192 are duplicates and £998.22 has been paid twice for the [redacted text]”;
  • “…the Council continues to claim VAT on payments that are not directly supplied to the Council”;
  • “…I have received information that the minutes have not always reflected exactly what happened in the meetings”;
  • “The minutes of the remuneration committee dated 9/9/20 refer to approving minutes of the meeting held 10/4/20. There doesn’t appear to have been a meeting held on the 10/4/20”;
  • “Budgetary Controls. There are no explanations of significant variances in the minutes”;
  • “A receipt should be given by the clerk when in receipt of any cash”;
  • “…the asset register spreadsheet provided to me was not correct and has not been reviewed or agreed in the current financial year”; and
  • “Section 2 of the unaudited AGAR is signed by the RFO and the signature of the chairman differs to the signature on Section 2.”

An interim parish clerk has been appointed because Mr Clarke was signed off sick before the interim council took control.

Mr Clarke is also a candidate for one of the eight vacant Normandy Parish Council seats, forcing an election on May 6. As an employee of the council, whether he is qualified to be a candidate has been questioned (see Unease Over Clerk Standing In Normandy Parish Council Election).

This evening, Brian Middleton who resigned with two fellow parish councillors in the wake of the turbulent January meeting, said: “I am shocked and saddened to read the report on the parish council website.

“During the short period when I was a councillor, the failings now highlighted by the auditors were unknown to me and were closely guarded.

“My growing suspicion and the lack of transparency were instrumental in my resignation which, although with sadness, has helped bring about an opportunity for better scrutiny and the forming of a new council with new policies and stricter controls.”

We have requested comment from Cllr Bilbe, NPC’s interim chair, and will update this article appropriately.

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test One Response to Normandy Parish Audit Reveals ‘Breakdown In Control’ by Former Council

  1. William Brewster Reply

    May 6, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    The reality is most parish councils are incapable of running a bath.

    My village Ripley is run by a parish council that doesn’t represent any of the residents and does what it likes regardless of what we need or like.

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