Waste Management & Blue Bin Purchase Issue Referred To Police

BNP Group Leader and Chair of the Audit Committee Michael Coleman has today confirmed that he will refer the issues raised in the Internal Audit into waste management to the Police.

The Audit committee yesterday agreed to accpet the Internal Audit Report and to note the letter of support from the District Auditor for the Audit findings.

There will also be an action plans to oversee the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

”The matter has been fully investigated by the council’s internal audit team, and the district auditor has confirmed that he will not take further action. The recommendations in both audit reports have been endorsed by the council’s Audit Committee, which has also asked for an action plan to be prepared to ensure the recommendations are fully implemented. Any matters referred to the police will be matters for them.”

Cllr Coleman has commended the report and stated that in his opinion the purchase of the blue bins at £1.63million needed further investigation.

Listen to the Audio Interview with Cllr Coleman below.

Cllr Coleman’s decision to report the matter to the police has come as a suprise to members of the Audit Committee

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] has said that Cllr Coleman’s actions are more to do with headline grabbing ahead of the local elections.

He has questioned whether it was appropiate for the Chair of the Audit Committee to refer the matter to the police when the committee accepted the findings of the Internal audit and the implementation of its recommendations.

Cllr Sailh said that he hoped that he would make the complaint to the Police as an individual as opposed to as chair of the Audit Committee as his views were not shared by the other members.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Waste Management ““ Lessons Must Be Learned.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Audit Committee have today [Wednesday] concluded that the Authority must learn the lessons from the issues raised in an Internal Audit into the Waste Management services which led to the purchase of 84000 wheelie bins without the knowledge of any elected representatives.

The committee also moved a motion accepting the Internal Audit’s recommendations in their entirety and they also noted a letter from the District Auditor which supports its findings.

There will also be an Action Plan implemented that will ensure that officers keep elected members informed of the progress in meeting the Internal Audit’s recommendations.

4.1 It is acknowledged that many of the issues raised in this report took place at a time where the organisational structure and arrangements of the Waste Management Service was going through substantial changes; this led to a significant loss of expertise. Furthermore the staff who were in post when decisions were made/actions taken are no longer employed by the council and as a result any potential recommendations involving disciplinary action have not been made. However Recommendation 4 acknowledges that although issues have been identified within Waste Management which cannot be taken up with individuals, they highlight a need for a council-wide response. In light of the findings contained within the above report, the following recommendations are made:-

R1 That a comprehensive cost analysis is undertaken to
establish the full costs of both the enhanced recycling scheme and its predecessor. This analysis should take into account all associated costs (and revenues), for example income from saleable recyclables, achievement of savings, and costs of changing systems such as compensation arrangements. This should be reported to Cabinet and the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee at a date to be agreed.

R2 That ongoing analysis and reporting of performance against government recycling targets is maintained, including an analysis of costs in the areas under scrutiny. This must take into account known variances and the impact this may have on future performance.

R3 That a cross party working group be established to review the council’s current and future waste management policy.

R4 Building upon the implementation of the council’s accountability framework, that a mandatory training programme is instigated to all council employees to strengthen compliance with regulations, including the specific requirements of the constitution.

R5 Building upon earlier requests that reports contain accurate and timely information and are clear and transparent and have been rigorously reviewed by Legal Services, Finance, HR and contain appropriate risk management information.

R6 That appropriate succession planning is implemented immediately to ensure that information is retained and appropriate handovers take place so that there is consistency in service delivery when key staff leave. This is particularly important in the current climate.

R7 That officers are reminded that disciplinary action will be taken in cases of serious breaches of Financial Regulations and Contract Procedure Rules.

Committee councillors voiced their disappointment over the
actions of officers involved in Waste Management, the procurement of the blue bins at an unnecessary cost of £1.63million and that the WRAP report had no member involvement.

They also took the opportunity to voice their anger over the city’s governance arrangements at the time of the fiasco. Councillors, Salih, Brian, John Davies and Coleman all cited the Elected Mayor/Council Manager system as being the catalyst for officers to treat elected members as if they did not exist or were of no importance.

Labour Councillors Hill, Hamer and Dillon insisted that relationship between officers and elected members must improve especially as many officers were losing their jobs and some were being relocated to different jobs and in some cases, different departments. There was a concern that some officers were taking on new duties without the appropriate hand-over period and information.

Cllr Hill said that it was irrelevant what the relationships between officer and members was like in the past but is was essential that communication between the officer core and members improved dramatically in the future as it was essential to the relationships that councillors had with the electorate and how communities engaged with the process of the city council.

Cllr Mick Salih voiced his anger that the Internal Audit did not name any officers involved but did contain the names of any elected members that were involved at the time.

He said that it was in the public interest that the officers involved in the issues highlighted in the Audit report were named even if they had left the city council and were employed in other authorities.

I do think that there have been some failings in the decision making and procurement arrangements.
I share the Internal Audits concerns about the process leading up to the decision to change recycling arrangements in 2008. As a result the City Council is not in a position to clearly demonstrate that value for money was achieved.

He said that he supports the Internal Audit’s recommendation that “Ëœa comprehensive cost analysis is undertaken to establish the full costs of both the Enhanced Recycling scheme and its predecessor’.

The Internal Audit investigation has highlighted several procedural defects including:

“¢ Failure to secure an approved Exemption Certificate for the temporary variation to the City Council’s green waste contract.

“¢ Poor record keeping in support of the blue bin purchase.

“¢ The fact that the bins were purchased before members had approved any requirement for them.

“¢ Purchase of the blue bins was not in the Forward Plan, nor it appears were urgent decision processes followed.

“¢ The lack of clarity over the decision to abandon the first composting procurement; and

“¢ The failure to ascertain why companies who tendered on the first occasion chose not to re-tender.

Clearly this situation is not satisfactory. However I am reassured that the City Council asked Internal Audit to investigate these events; their report has been made public and agreed by the Chief Executive. I do not currently believe that there is a case for a formal audit action on my part, but I will keep developments under review as I have said above and i will take these matters into account in my value for money conclusions for the relevant years.

Pits n Pots carried out a comprehensive investigation into the Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling procedures at Stoke-on-Trent city Council and we conclude that the Internal Audit proved our concerns valid.

We went into this investigation to highlight that under the Elected Mayor/Council Manager system of Governance there was a culture among certain high ranking officers that the individuals that we, the people of Stoke-on-Trent, elect to serve us were treated appallingly and were considered irrelevant in certain instances.

We believe that this reports that the WRAP report was “Ëœburied, and its recommendations never discussed with elected members.

We believe that 84000 blue bins were purchased at a cost of £1.63 million when there was not member approval and were not necessarily required.

We believe that there were never budget savings of £1million as stated by the City council.

We also believe that under the new system of Governance and under the direction of the new Chief Executive Officer there has been a considerable move to great openness and transparency. We feel that this internal audit is evidence of that.

We would like to thank those councillors who met with us and talked to us and gave us the help and assistance to bring this matter out into the open.

Please now take the time to read the Internal Audit Report and the letter from the District Auditor which can be found by clicking the links below.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

I trust this article finds you fit, well and full of festive cheer.

This New Year needs to see a new start in Stoke-on-Trent.

I was out of action for a while pre Christmas, due to a back injury which prevented me from spending my usual amount of time at my PC. During that down time, I found myself ponderings the goings on at Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

I think that it is fair to say that the end of year report on our public servants down at the civic is the classic “Ëœmust do better’.

The two stories that rocked the 6 towns just before the festive break [was it a case of the best time to air our dirty laundry?] were the audit finding on the Icelandic bank fiasco and the release of the report, forced by a Pits n Pots investigation into waste management and recycling.

Both issues raised serious concerns about the way our City is being administered and has called the integrity of a number of officers into question.

It was nice to see other media outlets pick the recycling issue up and run with it when they showed little or no interest in it previously. Mind you we did hand it to them on a plate following the extensive hours burning the midnight oil researching an issue that literally cost our city millions of pounds.

Let’s focus on the Icelandic issue first shall we. This was all about an unopened email warning the City Council that the creditworthiness of the Icelandic Bank Landsbanki had been downgraded. Note, it did not say the bank was going to collapse so get your money out now.

That email was left unopened which prevented the senior officers from assessing the risk to the city’s investment in light of the new information. I have information that the officer concerned who did not open that email offered to resign. The offer was declined.

The issue was reported to the appropriate Director, the Council Manager was informed, the then Elected Mayor was “Ëœbriefed’.

Why the Elected Mayor chose not to inform other elected representatives only he can say.

The shameful fact is that no other EMB councillor or any other councillor in the chamber was informed. Effectively the issue was covered up and hidden from our elected representatives and therefore out of the public domain.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, it was only down to the fact that the information was to be included in the Audit Letter that we got to heart of it at all.
Now let’s turn to the Recycling issue.

Pits n Pots had been aware of some of the issues relating to the Waste Management and Recycling for a good few months before we had the time to investigate the matter as thoroughly as we would like.

Our suspicions proved to be right. Officers withheld vital information from our elected representatives. The recycling trial was a sham as £1.6million of blue bins had already been ordered.

A report conducted by WRAP was effectively buried and kept out of sight of the prying eyes of those councillors who see it as their duty to scrutinise the decisions made by the executive and highly paid officers.

Our whole point in investigating this issue was to prove that a massive amount of our money has been spent without the involvement and knowledge of those who we elect to serve us.

The Audit report claims that WRAP gave a series of recommendations on how best to collect our waste and maximise our recycling. It did not, it gave a series of options which the council needed to debate.

That debate would have had input from all sides of the chamber and would not just focus on the least cost option which officers opted for.

There were a number of councillors that were unhappy at the quality and lack of substance in the reports put before councillors both on the EMB and within the chamber.

We reminded the Leader of the City Independents that he had called in the decision to go to a trial of the new recycling scheme.

The reports that were submitted to any committee were poor at best and deliberately lightweight at worse.

Those officers made a square peg fit into a round hole and spent a huge sum of our money in the process.

One of those options put forward from WRAP was the exact same model that Newcastle opted for [they had a WRAP report at around the same time]. Newcastle had full member involvement; they showed how mature they are as an authority and selected the best option for their residents. NULBC now realise 52% recycling as opposed to SOTCC’s 42% at best.

Furthermore NULBC did not go out and spend a stupid amount of money on blue bins that if our city council had have been more open about the options, we would not have needed to purchase them [originally they were to be leased, who changed their mind?]

Cllr Joy Garner did not come out of the Audit very well at all.

She was the EMB member at the time and people have said to me that she must have been in on the cover up.

People are thinking that she was working in tandem with officers and deliberately keeping councillors out of the loop.

Well let me tell you what I believe, Cllr Joy Garner, in my humble opinion, was as much as a victim as the rest of the councillors in the chamber.

I spoke to Joy on several occasions when gathering information for our investigation. It was Pits n Pots that informed Joy about the WRAP report that was buried and kept away from elected representatives. She was not aware of this report and as someone who is passionate about green issues and knowledgeable about waste management services she would have been as upset as anyone that she the as the portfolio holder was not given all the facts on which to base her support on.

I am aware that Cllr John Daniels has called on the District Auditor to look into the matter. I also think that he is the Councillor that contacted the Chair of Audit Committee, Cllr Michael Coleman offering more information.

Cllr Coleman was prevented from allowing the councillor to come before his committee on the advice of the council’s legal officer.

In the words of my dear old dad “Ëœit’s time for him to poo or get off the pot’- well it looks as if Cllr Daniels is at last willing to force this issue out into the public domain and in doing so exposing the many issues that were caused by the deliberate withholding of the vital information needed to make the best decision for our city.

I don’t think this issue will go away, in fact I expect more revelations in the near future.

Finally let me say this; It is true that all of this happened on someone elses watch and under a very different system of governance.

I think that Stoke-on-Trent was used as some sort of crazy experiment.

Someone somewhere decided to see what how an authority would operate with an unelected officer at the helm and with the final say over every strategic decision.

This system of governance rode roughshod over our city’s democracy. It made our politics worthless and was massively disrespectful to our city’s residents.

The two issues that this article concentrates on proves that an officer led authority, where the involvement of those who are elected by the public to serve the public role is diminished to a point that they are basically useless, was an epic failure.

Our new Chief Executive Officer John van de Laarschot [yes I am a bit of a fan] says that he is committed to openness and transparency. Our Council Leader Mohammed Pervez says the same.

Well guys time to prove it once and for all.

Let the full facts on the waste management and recycling come out into the public domain. Let Councillor John Daniels have his say in a very public arena [extraordinary council meeting to discuss the audit report?] and lets put this sorry and very expensive saga to bed for once and for all.

I trust the integrity of our CEO and Council Leader. but with all that has gone on under the direction of those who have moved on to wreak havoc in other authorities, a contract agreeing the process and involvement between the officer core and elected members should formulated and signed by both parties.

The relationship between our city’s officers and councillors is at an all time low. Many councillors have told me privately that the no longer trust officers of the council. This is not conducive to a productive and progressive environment which is essential to the improvement of our council over the next few years which will be fraught with financial hardship and difficulties in providing effective services.

It is true that what has gone has gone. But we must implement measures to ensure that there is no return to the “Ëœwe will deal with the politicians IF we have to’ days.

With recent revelations it proves we are nowhere near yet and until we are there will be the leaks, the whispers and the accusations.

You can bet that Pits n Pots will be as active, no even more active in bringing issues out into the public domain.

Someone once said “print and be damned!” and you can bet we will”¦.

Happy New Year!

Enhanced Recycling Scheme Goes To Audit Committee

This morning Stoke-on-Trent City Council Audit Committee are sitting and will be reviewing the Waste Management Services Audit Report.

The Waste Management Services Audit Report is the internal review which was instigated after Pits n pots investigated the procurement of the Blue Recycling bins & the enhanced recycling trial.

The 25 page internal audit report, is item 7 on the agenda.

Having read through the report it seems to generate even more questions than it provides in answers. Reading the Executive Summary of the report shows that:

Officers presented a detailed report to CDB (Corporate Directors Board) & EMB briefings. Meeting minutes show that the report was discussed at length yet the final report to the EMB which was used to make the decision to move to alternate weekly collections was only 3 pages long and was lacking in detail at this point Councillor Brian Ward and others called the decision in, (a small point that Councillor Ward forgot until Pits n Pots reminded him in November).

The council requested WRAP report was never presented to the EMB so it was impossible for the EMB to to make a sound rational decision based on fact.

The report highlights that the 84,000 Blue Bins were purchased in two batches in September & November 2008, before the decision to move to alternate weekly collections was made. The report states that the identity of the officers who placed the orders is known and that the investigation has failed to find any evidence of member involvement in the purchase.

‘Misunderstandings’ between officers meant that it was never clear in subsequent reports as to how the costs of the blue bins would be accounted for.

All the officers involved in drawing up the 2007 Waste Management Strategy and proposals for enhanced recycling have now left the city council so any of the recommendations for disciplinary action can not be fulfilled.

We will report on the outcome of the Audit Committee meeting later, but based on what we have seen in the report so far, it appears that under the previous administration the council was run by the interim council leader, directors & officers with no accountability and little or no member input.

Of course recommendations have been made in the report to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Image Used under License

Pits n Pots Investigation Initiates Inquiry Into Enhanced Recycling At Stoke-on-Trent City Council

An Internal Audit Committee investigation in to the Enhanced Recycling scheme at Stoke-on-Trent City Council was unanimously voted for at this afternoons full council meeting.

The investigation was called for after Pits n Pots revealed a number of issues around the lack of information supplied to elected members when they were deciding on the best method of recycling in Stoke-on-Trent.

The following motion was moved by Cllr Mike Barnes and seconded by Cllr Mick Salih:

”Stoke-on-Trent City Council expresses its deep concern into allegations regarding our waste management services.

In particular, the allegations that councillors have been misled, reports of consultants altered and circumvention of the City Council Procurement Policy and Tendering Processes.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, therefore, shall set up an urgent independent investigation into the carrying out of its Waste Management functions over the last 3 years, in particular:

· The work undertaken by officers

· Members’ Information and Reports

· Procurement

The final report shall be submitted to the full Council meeting following completion of the report, subject to any legal/criminal proceedings that might arise being dealt with separately and according to due process.”

Cllr Mike Barnes [Community Voice] said that he was reluctant and disappointed to be moving this motion. He said that this issue was not just about waste and recycling but it highlighted an issue that went to the very core of democracy. He hit out at those officers who put misleading and incomplete information before Elected Member. He said that this issue effected those good councillors on all sides of the chamber who probably made a flawed decision regarding waste and enhanced recycling based on the mis-information supplied by a tiny minority of officers who may not even be with the council anymore. He ended by saying that this inquiry was essential and asked ‘what price democracy?’

Cllr Barnes said that he would support an Internal Audit Investigation as long as it was headed up by Council CEO John van de Laarschot. He also called for a time limit and a reporting mechanism to be implemented. He thanked Pits n Pots for their investigation and for bringing the issue out into the open.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] said that this inquiry was not just about waste management. He stated that he believed it was about the processes and protocols that were essential between officers and members. He supported an internal audit under the guidance of the CEO he said he fully supported and trusted the majority of officers. He said that with the move to all out elections and single member wards coming next year that this issue had to be resolved now. He asked for the inquiry findings to go to the cabinet and then to full council. He called for the investigation to be thorough and for democracy not to be swept under the carpet.

Cllr Michael Coleman [BNP] said that he might not be around next year and so he was asking for this issue to be investigated as a matter of urgency as it could potentially be one of the most serious issues to come before the council in it’s history.

Council Leader Cllr Mohammed Pervez [Labour] Agreed that the revelations revealed on Pits n Pots were very serious and that the issues should not be swept under the carpet. He reminded the chamber that the external investigation into the Britannia Stadium issue cost the council £23,000. That investigation applauded the comprehensive nature of the internal audit and found nothing extra. He told the chamber that the council’s own internal audit was independent and he moved an amendment to the motion to call for the inquiry to be internal under the guidance of CEO John van de Laarschott.

Cllr Brian Ward [City Independents] Seconded the amendment and he reminded the chamber that it was him and his group that had first thought that there was an issue surrounding waste management and recycling. He told the chamber that the original report was very poor and that was what had brought it to their attention in the first place. ‘I don’t ever like to say I told you so…. but’ he said. He agreed that the inquiry should be carried out at speed as he was as interested in it’s findings as anyone. He reminded the chamber that this was another case of the council closing the door after the horse had bolted.

Cllr Barnes reminded the chamber that he was happy to support an amendment as long as assurances were given about how the inquiry was to be conducted. He clashed with the Council Leader over the Britannia Stadium deal inquiry and he also hit out at Cllr Terry Follows for his mind change about waste and recycling since the call in to him becoming portfolio holder with responsibility and accepting the cabinet dollar.

John van de Laarschot [Council CEO] said he was happy to give members the assurances that they were looking for over the conduct of this inquiry. He said that the audit committee would conduct their inquiry into what did or did not go wrong and that they would present their findings first to Cabinet and then to Full Council and he expected that it could be concluded within approximately 3 months.

Cllr John Daniels [Conservative & Ind All] said that whilst he had full trust in the CEO he felt that the issues raised by Pits n Pots and his own information and investigations convinced him that this was serious enough to be referred to the District Auditor. He was certain that rules and procedures were not adhered to and that councillors and members of the public deserved to know the truth.

The vote was taken on the amendment. Every councillor voted in favour apart from Cllr Daniels who voted against.

Pits n Pots have now achieved our objectives in relation to this issue. We will of course scrutinise and report on the Inquiry findings.

It was never about accusing any officer of any wrong doing. To us it was all about finding out the processes and investigating whether elected members had sufficient information and evidence on which to base their decision or invoke the scrutiny process.

To find out what,what was not, and why it was not, was presented to those who we elected to serve us.

All Articles by Mike Rawlins & Tony Walley – If you would like Pits n Pots to investigate anything, please use the contact form to get in touch, or email press@pitsnpots.co.uk

DA’s Report into the Britannia Stadium Sale Descends into Farce!

The Audit Committee for Wednesday 19 May, already delayed from Monday 17 May, has now been cancelled because the report from the District Auditor on the Sale of Stoke-on-Trent’s City Council’s shares in the Britannia Stadium to Stoke City Football Club, still could not be made ready in time.

The report has now been put back to the 20 June 2010. Sorry to be suspicious or cynical but by the 20 June ““ Mick Salih, myself and PKB could have been removed from the Audit Committee by the new “coalition”.

It was October 2008 ““ yes 2008! ““ when I first submitted my complaints to the District Auditor.

This raises the question of the effectiveness and competence of the DA’s office in Stoke-on-Trent, and I know a number of us are considering an official complaint.

Little did I know then, that such simple questions as “who decided on instalments” and “why weren’t the councillors told of the instalments plan” would take so long to answer that we have had 2 new chief executives in the intervening period.

Farce almost seems like an inadequate description: little wonder that many councillors or the public have no faith in the accuracy of information from the council, or the ability of our democratic system to hold decision makers to account.

Once again we have little more to do that speculate over the latest foot dragging.

I rather suspect that some mentioned in the DA’s report are very unhappy with its conclusions and are frantically pressurising him to alter its wording.

One silver lining that has come out of this cloud of a delay, is the return to high office of those that were at the helm and the centre of this scandal when all this occurred.

A primary element of Democracy’s survival is trust.

In particular, trust in those appointed to manage and facilitate its fair and proper function. Trust that information is accurate. Trust nothing is hidden away to deceive those elected by the public. Trust that accountability is held at its heart.

At the moment this is absent from the corridors and senior offices of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Full Council Report – Barnes, The Brit, The EDL, And His Bid For Stoke South!

Thursday’s Full Council started with a vote of thanks for the Police handling of last weekend’s EDL rally.

Deputy Leader Brian Ward applauded the Police and Council partnership working arrangements on the build up and the actual day.

Many councillors agreed with Cllr Wards sentiments. The only dissenting voice came from the BNP benches.

Cllr Steve Batkin said that he believed that the EDL was state sponsored to make the far right look stupid.

The contentious points of the meeting are covered in the Audio Interviews with Mike Barnes.

This interview is well worth a listen as Mike speaks out about the Brittania Stadium deal, the NSRP and he reveals that he will stand in the General Election as an Independent Candidate against Rob Flello in Stoke-on-Trent South.

Who You Gonna Call? – Fraud Busters!

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Stoke on Trent City Councillor are setting up a dedicated fraud busting unit to combat any future suspected corruption!

The move comes just weeks after the Elected Mayor and a senior EMB member were arrested following allegations of fraud at Stoke on Trent City Council. Both men have denied any wrong doing and have vowed to clear their names.

It is understood that audit officers are also investigated the sale of the councils share in the Brittania Stadium in December 2007 although no corruption has been alleged.

Speaking in todays Sentinel, the councils risk and audit manager Sue Woodall told the council audit committee members that the new draft anti-fraud and corruption strategy should be approved within days.

She said: “We are now bringing together a corporate fraud team that will address issues right across the authority, rather than pockets of good work where we focus on specific areas.

“The team will have a broader and more focused role when addressing fraud, while the strategy sets out what we would see as our minimum standards.”

Audit officers will have to adhere to strict confidentiality guidelines about their work and sign annual declarations of independence. The officers will also be required to be more insular from other council departments.

The fraud bust busting team will be empowered to protect and encourage whistle-blowers who report allegations of  possible corruption. they will also be given: “unrestricted access to all levels of management, personnel, elected members, premises, records and assets, including those of partner organisations”.

The report also states:

“The city council fully recognises its responsibilities for spending public money and is committed to the fullest support for members and employees in upholding the reputation of the city council and maintaining the public’s confidence in the integrity of the city council.

“The city council will deal firmly with those who defraud the council or who are corrupt.”

This is a welcome and positive initiative which demonstrates that our city council are committed to making the organisation fully accountable. They must be applauded for this strategy.

Over to you…….

STOKE BNP ASK – WHO’S GOING TO GET THE CHOP?

bnp22This article just in from Stoke BNP….

This article raises serious questions about the way our city finances are handled……

Last year myself, Craig Pond, and Sam Tunstall questioned the Audit committee, in particular the 151 officer Julie Gill, who refused us the information we requested on the 07/08 Audit.

The outcome of this meeting was, half way through the meeting she walked out, and later resigned.

The truth is slowly coming out to the scale of incompetence by Steve Robinson, and Julie Gill, who have deserted the sinking ship.

Steve Robinson went to Cheshire closely followed by Julie Gill, who became head of resources there.

Last year I put on this site the £28 million pounds the council had wasted over a number of years, well it seems they have outdone themselves this time.

It has come to light that Stoke-on-Trent Community Services has overspent their budget by £12 million, and lost £1.9 million due to the “credit crunch”?

As well as this Meredith has overspent the budget on the Tunstall Northern Bypass by £6 million.

With £5 million lost in the Icelandic bank crash a total so far of £24.9 million, that as come out so far.

Over £500,000 a week, as I said “so far”

What other delights are there hiding that we will find out about later?

Is this why car parking charges are going through the roof, and pensioners are being charged £15 to pay for the possible life saving pull cord system.

No wonder they did not want us looking into the accounts of the city council, and no wonder that the District Auditor will not sign off the Audit nearly 12 months after completion.

Why is it that “our” finance department can’t get its figures right to avoid this?

Where were the checks to avoid this disaster?

Is it because its not their own money, or are they incompetent?

The Council now has to make cuts, and raise revenue in order to compensate for this lunacy, so we will be made to pay for their mistakes, through higher charges, and cuts (if that’s possible) in services.

What do the posters on PnP think about this, I put it over to you.

Terry Cope

Stoke BNP

As this article raises serious questions regarding our city’s financial management, Pits’n’pots have asked the city council to resond the the issues raised.

We will bring you this response as soon as we get it………….