Monday 4 September 2023

Barham Park Trust Accounts - Two questions that need answering

 I am publishing, with permission, the text of an email sent to Brent's Head of Internal Audit and Investigations:



Dear Mr Armstrong,



I am sorry for the short notice, but I have been reading the papers for the Barham Park Trust Committee meeting on Tuesday 5 September at 10am.



There are a couple of points arising from the Trust accounts for 2022/23 which I believe need to be explained to the Committee and the public at that meeting (even though I will only be able to watch it when the webcast is available to view online later in the week).



You were the Independent Examiner of those accounts, and at para. 4.2 of your Supplementary Audit Review, you have stated that:



'No matter has come to my attention, which gives me reasonable cause to believe that, in any material respect, the requirement:

...  To which, in my opinion, attention should be drawn in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.'



Although I have been accustomed to reading accounts for many years, there are two points with the 2022/23 Barham Park Trust accounts which I think are material for a proper understanding of them:



1.    Fun Fair Receipts - The 2022/23 accounts show no Fun Fair receipts (previous year £28,172), but the Trustee's Annual Report (6a Appendix 1) states that 'The park hosted a Fun Fair on two occasions.' 

The General Update Report to the September 2022 Trust Committee meeting gave these details: 'Irvin’s Fun Fair were at Barham Park: Operating days between the 20th May to 5th June 2022 (on site 12th May to 6th June); Operating days between the 19th August to 4th September 2022 (and will be on site until a few days later).'

How much was payable by Irvin's Fun Fair for its use of Barham Park for those two periods in 2022/23, and why does this amount not appear in the Trust's 2022/23 accounts?


2.    Consultancy Payments - The 2022/23 accounts show Consultancy payments of £21,244 out of the Trust's unrestricted funds. The Officer Report to the Committee on the Trust's Annual Report and Accounts refers to: 'additional one-off costs have been incurred associated with commissioning a Barham Park Feasibility study to consider the use of the Barham Park building and its condition in the long-term.'

It is clear from earlier meetings of the Barham Park Trust Committee, particularly that of 27 January 2022, that the Trust had agreed to appoint Rider Levett Bucknall ("RLB") architects to produce a feasibility study on the future of the Barham Park buildings. It was also clear that it had been agreed the £25,000 cost of this would be met as capital expenditure by Brent Council.

The results of the RLB report are to be considered at the Trust Committee meeting on 5 September, but to understand the 2022/23 accounts properly, more explanation is needed. The meeting on Tuesday should be told, and the answers minuted, on who the £21,244 was paid to, what services were provided to the Trust in return for that payment (and where is the evidence for those services?), who authorised this expenditure and where that authorisation is recorded.



Thank you, in advance, for your prompt attention to the points I have raised. I am copying this email to other Council Officers who may need to be involved in ensuring that these points are dealt with at Tuesday's meeting. 



Best wishes,


Philip Grant.





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