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STRATHCLYDE RAN UP£50M DEBT IN ITS LAST YEAR

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An external auditor's report on Strathclyde RC said the authority was financially out of control in its last few mo...
An external auditor's report on Strathclyde RC said the authority was financially out of control in its last few months, producing a deficit of almost£50m to be met by its successor councils.

The Herald (p1) reports that the deficit would have been£82.3m had there not been a£38.6m surplus from the previous financial year.

Almost have the deficit has been identified as the cost of redundancies and early retirement arranged for staff prior to the march 1996 reorganisation which saw Strathclyde being replaced by 12 unitary councils.

Glasgow City Council's Conservative group leader, John Young said: 'The report is utterly devastating. The ripples of this are being felt, not only now, but will be for a long time in the future. I have no doubt that council tax payers and local authority services will suffer accordingly.'

Accounts Commission chief auditor Robert McFarlane's report highlights a number of operational failings but acknowledges that most of these problems stem from the absence of key staff during the reorganisation process.

Glasgow City Council has been delegated to close the accounts of the former authority and the council's policy and resources committee will now consider the report when it next meets.

Meanwhile, Accounts Commission controller of audit Robert Black said in a statement today:

'My office has recently received the final report from the auditor on the audit of the Strathclyde Regional Council's accounts for 1995/96. We do not yet have the signed accounts which normally come with the auditor's report. When we get these accounts we will be considering the issues raised by the auditor.

'I will be preparing a report later this year on all the significant issues arising from the audits of the final year of all reigonal and district councils, including Strathclyde. My report will go to the Accounts Commission for their consideration.'

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