Honiton Town Council says it was looking at problems before audit report was even published

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 16 April 2018

The damning audit report published by Grant Thornton.

The damning audit report published by Grant Thornton.

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A list of recommendations made to Honiton Town Council in a report which found 'serious failings' at the authority are currently being addressed, says the council's clerk.

Mark Tredwin said issues highlighted in an audit report, relating to the council’s accounts for the year ending March 31, 2017, were being looked at before the document was even published.

The report, published by Grant Thornton, which was appointed by the Audit Commission as auditor of the council, found a number of ‘serious failings in governance and procedures’ at Honiton Town Council.

As a result, Grant Thornton published seven recommendations to the council to ensure solid governance is in place.

One recommendation urges the council to review and updates its financial regulations and ensure they are reviewed regularly by full council.

Mr Tredwin said: “Councillors indentified in the middle of last year that financial regulations and Standing Orders needed to brought up to date.

“As part of the ongoing process, they have resolved that they will be updated in order to make allowances for the change in officers, and any other governance requirements, by July 2018.

“They will be annually reviewed from then on.”

Another recommendation says the council needs to identify, assess and record risks associated with actions and decisions it has taken or considered taking during the year that could have ‘financial or reputational’ consequences.

Mr Tredwin said: “In line with Grant Thornton’s report, this council body had already identified the importance of ensuring that any potential financial or reputational risks should be investigated, recorded and provision made for.”

Mr Tredwin’s comments come a week after Honiton mayor Councillor John Zarczysnki and former town councillor David Perkins clashed over the report after Mr Perkins accused Cllr Zarczysnki of not taking the report seriously.

The document found that authority’s financial systems had not been updated between November 2016 and March 2017.

It also found only the clerk had the login details of a new finance system which was introduced in June 2016.

Furthermore, the report noted that at the point of the review, there had not been any bank reconciliations completed since September 2016. This, the report said, was due to the financial system not being kept up to date.

Other key findings revealed reserve levels was not being reported to the council, no financial information had been provided to the council for scrutiny since October 2016, and insufficient information was provided on its assets and liabilities.

Mr Tredwin said the council is making positive steps to resolve the outstanding issues.

He added: “While the report is clearly very concerning, it is pleasing to note that all the recommendations had already been identified by this council body and steps had been taken to already deal with the issues.”

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