KPMG was appointed auditor to Lincolnshire CC three years ago, and has recently been examining issues concerning corporate governance and decision making processes. The auditor is empowered where 'the public interest requires' to issue a report under the Audit Commission Act 1998. The auditor considers that the matters he has examined of sufficient concern to warrant such a report.
- Decision - making processes that were beyond the powers of the council
- Improper pressure and misuse of power by members in staffing matters
- Misuse of severance powers
- Failure by the former chief solicitor and monitoring officer properly to fulfil his role
The auditor's report highlights that the above matters are a product of a poor relationship which has been allowed to develop between certain senior officers and certain of the majority group councillors.
The auditor has made a number of recommendations to the council in order to assist it in ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place, including:
- The appointment of a suitable external individual to work with the council
- The undertaking of an ethical governance audit
- Reviewing its scheme of delegated authority
- Training for members on the relevant codes of conduct
Whilst the auditor points out that the failures listed above should be seen in the context of the council's overall record as an innovative council, one which provides many excellent services to local residents, he cautions that left unchecked the dynamics reported upon could destabilise and damage the reputation of the council.
The report notes that whilst a committee of the council has made recommendations to set in place a framework to address the issues raised in the report, the council has yet to formulate any action plan. It is the auditor's intention to consider the adequacy of the council's response to the report and to decide whether follow-up action is required.
The report has now been provided to Lincolnshire CC and is available here .