Eastbourne council accounts remain unaudited

Criticism is growing after it was revealed Eastbourne council’s annual accounts have still not been audited.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:52 pm
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The Lib Dem controlled council is blaming a backlog and says 200 local authorities are still waiting for their accounts to be signed off.

But critics including the Conservative opposition say auditors at Deloitte are waiting for more information.

They want to see the accounts signed off and put in the public domain so they can be scrutinised.

The row broke out after Conservative Meads councillor Robert Smart demanded an explanation why the council’s 2018/19 accounts have still not been released nearly ten months since the end of the financial year.

He said, “The figures have not been signed off by the auditors Deloitte, which asked for more information from the council. Additional information requested by Deloitte in July was not presented until November and the company now has more queries.

“The council’s actions are once again an issue of transparency and accountability and come at a time when there is concern the authority’s venture into commercial property, using low-cost loans with the expectation to develop attractive returns, have not materialised.

“It’s really an outrage these accounts have not been signed off and that Conservative councillors like myself and taxpayers here in Eastbourne are in the dark over the actual financial position of this council.

“We know the council is heavily in debt and we know Deloitte has had some questions, so it’s absolutely imperative the council leader gets his act together and gets these accounts into the public domain so they can be scrutinised.

“Nearly 10 months is really far too long, several months after they were due, and I will be demanding council officials explains what on earth is going on and that he offers a concrete timeframe for publication.”

A spokesperson at Eastbourne council told the Herald the delay was “not ideal”.

The spokesperson said, “There is a backlog of council accounts yet to be signed off.

“More than 200 local authorities across the UK are in this position.

“It is not ideal, but our auditors are currently carrying out the audit in Eastbourne.

“We are working closely with them to help complete the audit work as soon as possible.”