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REVEALED: Tory Council suppressed damaging financial report for months

March 27, 2017 7:20 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

censoredConservative-run Surrey County Council has been forced to release a damaging financial report which warned in December 2016 that a 15% council tax referendum was "highly likely to fail". The report, produced by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA), cost nearly £25,000 and was commissioned in December but was only released to councillors on March 21st 2017, six weeks after the Council's budget meeting.

The report states "In CIPFA's view a referendum is highly likely to fail" and goes on to note that the Council's financial position is "extremely worrying" and "the absence of a credible cost-reduction plan", and that "The council's financial plans are not robust and it is at risk of becoming financially unsustainable". It concludes that the council's financial resilience is "dependant on winning a referendum process, high levels of unidentified savings and rapidly declining reserves - not a good place!".

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:

"This report should have been made available to all councillors in December 2016 - it is an absolute scandal that it was not. Instead, the Conservative-administration buried it as part of their failed 15% council tax strategy, which they were forced to drop after a concerted campaign by Liberal Democrat councillors and Surrey residents.

"The information contained in the report is damning - there are strong criticisms of the council's poor financial position, declining reserves and unidentified savings which all councillors had a right to know about before voting on the council's Budget in February. This is why the Leader of the Council should resign, he simply cannot be trusted to be open and transparent when it comes to the finances of Surrey County Council and the sharing of information with elected councillors. He should do the decent thing and go".

Notes

A copy of the CIPFA report can be found here:

https://surreylibdems.org.uk/en/document/cipfa-report-dec-2016

Cllr Watson's Cabinet question requesting the report can be found here on p10:

https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/documents/g5104/Decisions%20Tuesday%2028-Feb-2017%2014.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=2