Thursday 4 August 2016

Brent's Annual Governance Statement: Public money safeguarded & properly accounted for?

A Wembley Matters reader writes: I came across the attached document tucked away in the "Transparency in Brent" section of the Council's website, while researching a point on the 2015/16 accounts. Brent's Annual Governance Statement opens with the words:

'Brent Council (‘The Council’) is responsible for ensuring that its business is conducted in accordance with the law and proper standards, and that public money is safeguarded and properly accounted for, and used economically, efficiently and effectively.'

The statement does actually mention (though not by name) the Rosemarie Clarke case and the settlement with Cara Davani at the end of Section 5 - Significant Governance Issues.

I wonder if other Wembley Matters readers might be interested in having this Statement brought to their attention (as I am not aware that the Council has done much to publicise it).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Council speak with forked tongue again.

Anonymous said...

Jackanory what a story comes to mind. It is quite clear that no one least of all Butt has read or absorbed any of this fiction.

Philip Grant said...

Another amusing feature of this statement is that, if you download the pdf document from Brent Council's website, you find that its "author" is London Borough of Ealing!


Anonymous said...

The above says it all doesn't it.

Alison Hopkins said...

I've just submitted an FoI request about ward working funds. I await the result with some interest.

Alfie said...

Am I right in thinking Davani's replacement came from Ealing?

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

Regarding councils' governance, may I remind Wembley Matters readers of these Brent & Kilburn Times stories:
Brent Council blasted for calling in the bailiffs on struggling families and
Hundreds of ‘struggling’ Brent residents taken to court over council tax arrears?

Those concerned about these types of issues can find out more about Taxpayers Against Poverty. Those who would also like to find out how to support people facing onslaughts from the DWP etc can also attend Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meetings where we help people with their entitlements as a user-led organisation every Thursday at Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JH every Thursday afternoon, 3pm for 3:20pm to 5:20pm. Pensioners are especially welcome as potential supporters, as it is less easy for the DWP to victimise those not subjected to Claimant Commitment, etc.

Further details on the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group blog under the heading 'Meeting Structure'.

Brent Resident said...

Just the fact that there is a section on Brent Council's website entitled "Transparency in Brent" is completely hilarious bearing in mind the difficulty in dredging out information that we want. It's a shame that the Trade Description Act does not apply to Brent Council information or statements.

Alfie said...

I recall Brent reportedly taking a £1 admin fee out of the wages of an employee because s/he couldn't afftord to pay Council Tax from the poverty wages they were paying. Ironically s/he filed a case at an employment Tribunal for underpayment and failure to pay enhancements whereby s/he was eventually awarded a settlement. So appalling was the inequality in Brent during the CG years.

Philip Grant said...

Dear Anonymous (5 August at 11:27) and Alfie,

I put my comment above about the "author" of the document as a bit of light relief (it made me chuckle when I saw it, anyway), but I don't think that there was anything sinister in it. Yes, Brent's new HR Director was previously employed by Ealing Council, but I think the reason that Ealing was involved is that Brent's internal audit section, which probably prepared the Statement was either outsourced to, or merged with, Ealing's internal audit section about a year ago.

There is a serious point to the Annual Governance Statement, however. It sets out details of all the arrangements and processes which the Council has in place to ensure that Brent has good governance.

The problem with this is the same one that I tried to highlight over Cllr. Pavey's review of HR and Equalities policies and practice (which was supposedly set up to learn the lessons from the Rosemarie Clarke case, but was not actually allowed to consider that case!), but which Scrutiny Committee (following advice from Brent's Chief Legal Officer) would not allow me to present to them in April 2015.

That problem, and the lesson not learned from the Rosemarie Clarke case, is that even the best policies and practices are of little use if they are ignored by the Officers or Councillors who are supposed to follow them, and if those Officers or Councillors are allowed to get away with it.