Friday, 16 September 2016

Brent Council External Audit certificate delayed while objections to accounts are investigated

The report of the external auditors, KPMG, is tabled for the Brent Council Audit Commitee on Thursday September 22nd, 7pm, Brent Civic Centre.

KPMG note on page 9 LINK:
In order for us to issue an audit certificate, we are required to have completed all our responsibilities relating to the financial year. We are not in a position to issue our audit certificate with the audit opinion as we have received six objections to the accounts from local electors.

We are currently in the process of considering these objections and assess the work we need to fulfil our statutory duties.

It is likely that some of these objection relate to the Council's £157,610 pay-off to ex-head of Brent Human Resources, Cara Davani. The auditor was asked to make a public interest report under Section 24 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act on the payment LINK:

This is the submission by Cllr John Warren:
I seek your consideration of a public interest report in respect of the Accounts of the L.B.of Brent for 2015/2016...........

1. I am on the electoral register in the Brondesbury Park  Ward in HBP4.

2.” Why you are objecting and facts on which you rely.”

I am objecting that you have not issued a report on what I shall refer to as the “ Rosemarie Clarke saga .”.......and put forward the following....

(a) L.B.Brent has suffered a significant financial loss due to mismanagement,incompetence,and decision - making at the highest level that fail totally to pass ANY test of “ reasonableness.”
(b) The cumulative cost of this saga totals in excess of £1 m. for 2014/2015 and 2015/2016.
(c) There is considerable interest in this saga from Brent residents.
(d) As admitted by L.B. of Brent, here has been considerable reputational damage to the Council as a result of this saga.

3. “ Details of any matter you think the external auditor should make a public interest report about .”.......

(a) The saga as referred to above with specific reference to .....

•          did the personal relationship between Christine Gilbert ,former Chief Executive ,and Cara Davani have any effect on the decision - making  in this saga?
•          did the fact that  the two afore-  mentioned individuals had previously worked together at both Ofsted and L.B. of Tower Hamlets play any part in the decision - making in this saga?
•          was it ,in  any way possible, “ reasonable “ for Ms Gilbert NOT to  initiate a disciplinary process against M/ s Davani in the light of the brutal judgement and comments by the Judge in the  Employment Tribunal case  at Watford - 3302741/2013?
•          did “ unreasonable “ decision - making in this saga mean that Brent Council should never have been placed in the position of having to agree an exit payment to M/ s Davani of £157,610 - as per 2015/16 accounts?
•          was it a proper use of public monies for L.B.of Brent to pay the costs/ damages awarded personally - as a defendant- against M/ Davani?

4. “ What you would like the external auditor to do ?”

I should like you to issue a public interest report on the reasonableness or otherwise of the decision - making in the “ Rosemarie Clarke saga. “..... because of the significant cost in money terms, Council reputational damage  and Brent  staff- relations ....
•          was it reasonable to take disciplinary action in the first place against Ms Clarke?
•          was it reasonable to appeal the Tribunal verdict in the light of the Judge’ s comment that “ Brent had no reasonable prospect of success ?”
•          was it reasonable not to take disciplinary action against Ms Davani in the light of the Tribunal judgement?
•          was it reasonable for Brent to pay all Ms Davani ‘ legal costs and damages personally awarded against her?
•          was it reasonable for Brent to make the exit payment of £157,610 to Ms Davani?


Philip Grant said...

As one of the local electors who objected to items in Brent Council's 2015/16 accounts, I can say that the £157k pay-off to Cara Davani was not the only improper payment which I raised an objection to. Her partner, Andy Potts, also received a pay-off when he left the Council at the same time in June 2015.

I do not know the amount paid to him, but Brent Council have disclosed that it was paid because he was made redundant, and that it would have been the standard redundancy package for someone at his grade (I believe that he was on the "Hay 3" pay scale, so it would have been quite a large amount).

What's wrong with that? Well, he could only be made redundant as a result of a staff restructuring exercise.
Who would have been closely involved in any such exercise at a fairly senior level in the Council? The HR Director, Cara Davani.

Who were the only people empowered to agree the amount of redundancy pay-offs? Either the HR Director, or her friend and ally, Christine Gilbert, the interim Chief Executive, who also decided that Cara Davani should be asked to leave the Council and given a pay-off.

To me, the whole of these arrangements seem like a "set-up", involving serious conflicts of interest and leading to a misapplication of Brent Council funds.


Philip Grant said...


At the Brent Audit Committee meeting yesterday evening, the external auditor from KPMG told the committee that 5 of the six objections from local electors to the Council's 2015/16 accounts were related to the leaving package for the former HR Director, and the other objection was about the Council's LOBO loans.


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