From Eastbourne Tories:

At the Eastbourne Borough Council Audit & Governance Committee public meeting on 28th July 2021, it was confirmed that the Council’s Financial Accounts for the year ending 31 March 2019 have, at long last, been audited.

The Conservative group on the Council had been calling for the 18/19 report for over two years, knowing that it was going to be uncomfortable.

The audit report states that the Council entered into a “financial guarantee contract” with a third party which was a significant value for money risk. In relation to the Governance and informed decision making of this contract, the Council were found to be lacking in commercial awareness.

Councillor Kshama Shore said,

“This Liberal Democrat-led Council , either wilfully, or more likely, through ignorance, entered into the arrangement without understanding the detailed accounting implications for Eastbourne Borough Council. At the time of the audit, it became apparent that there was no clear audit trail of the transaction. Furthermore, the final contractual structure entered into in 2018 was not the same as that initially consulted on and approved by Council in 2017.

Unless the Governing party FULLY understand the balance of risk and reward, how can we be satisfied that there is strong Governance? Due diligence was carried out, but did the Governing Party understand it? Where were the internal warning systems?

Why was it that in a quarterly report from our internal auditors in March 2021 only one out of 23 audits received full assurance, even the main accounting system did not get the full assurance, this is a disgrace.”

Cllr. Robert Smart, leader of the Conservative group who has been highlighting these issues for over two years, but even recently at the 21st July Council meeting the LibDem Cabinet Member for Finance said in reply to that we must agree to disagree. Cllr. Holt should now understand that perhaps it was the Administration who were wrong.”

He said: “When the Council’s reserves were low, why did the Council play Russian roulette with our money? Who is to blame for this debacle? Lastly, WHY is there so little transparency in relation to the Council’s Report & Accounts? These are some of the questions that need to be answered urgently.”