Brentwood Council’s accounts are signed off - three months late
�Brentwood Council is likely to incur a five-figure fine after it finally signed off its accounts on Monday – three months after they were due.
As the Recorder revealed in October, the Audit Commission refused to accept them, saying that they were not in the correct format or of the standard expected.
Lib Dem leader Cllr David Kendall, a member of the council’s audit committee, said: “It’s been a long, tortuous route and this is going to cost us. It’s time the council took some responsibility for this. There will be a post-mortem meeting in March, and I’ll be asking a lot of questions, like why weren’t we told about the problems earlier.”
Labour Cllr Mike Le-Surf said: “It’s cost us a massive bill for the auditors to look over it, and because it’s late the bill is going up again.
“The Lib Dems say we’re in a horrible mess and the Tories say they’re improving.
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“We’ll find out which is right when we see how quickly the next set of accounts get signed off.”
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Tory Cllr Chris Hossack, chairman of the audit committee, said that a number of factors, including new financial standards, caused the delay.
He said: “Nobody likes to miss a deadline, but the end product is a solid one. The 2010/11 accounts show that taxpayers are getting a better deal for their money.
“A number of authorities missed the accounts deadline, including some much larger councils.”
He added: “The moving of the finance function into a shared service arrangement with Essex County Council will give us the up-to-date accounting systems we need.
“This project is already well under way and is due to be delivered for the next financial year. Our current accounts for the year 2010/11 are as robust as they have ever been and we are pleased with this outcome. The Audit Commission will look at the appropriate fee.”