What IS happening in the borough council?

You’ll remember that last summer it was revealed that the Chief Executive – currently on Extended Leave – had been granted a significant, and controversial, pay increase.

The damning evidence was the Draft Financial Statement covering the council’s previous financial year.  The accounts had been signed off by Kelvin Menon, the Executive Head of Finance, who wrote: “I certify that the Statement of Accounts presents a true and fair view of the financial position of the Authority at 31st March 2019 and of its income and expenditure for the year then ended.”  (The Chairman of the Audit and Standards Committee, Cllr Alan McClafferty – now the council Leader – also confirmed:  “In accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, I certify that the Statement of Accounts was approved by the Committee on 22nd July 2019.”)

In Auigust, we wrote to the Executive Head of Finance, who, as he had signed off the accounts, presumably was familiar with the numbers underpinning them, and asked: “Are you able to let me know the rationale behind the increase?”  We later reminded him of this enquiry, but, as we reported here in January, we could never find an answer.

Fast forward to tomorrow.  A confidential meeting of the council will consider: “Appointment of Executive Head of Finance”  It seems that Kelvin Menon is no longer secure in the post.  More than that we do not know.  But are you thinking what we are thinking??

Oh, and a subsequent confidential meeting tomorrow will consider an “Update on HR Matter”.  Whatever that signifies.

The really frustrating thing is that WE have to suffer the consequences of ‘inefficiencies’ in the council, and WE have to pay the bill.  Yet we’re kept totally in the dark.


16 thoughts on “What IS happening in the borough council?

  1. Thank you for keeping us updated on this never-ending saga. It’s beyond ridiculous that so much is conducted in secret and the constant stonewalling in response to legitimate questions goes on and on. Will the truth ever be exposed?

    • There may be good reasons – fraud, prosecutions, and so on – for keeping the details secret. But the total lack of communication is just a sign that the council is frightened of the residents.

      • I agree with you that there my be valid reasons for withholding some information but I suspect that rather than being frightened of the residents too many Conservative councillors hold the residents in contempt and believe we should shut up and let them do as they see fit without question.

  2. Yes David thanks for pursuing this mess….you must be getting very frustrated.Let’ s
    hope that the end is in sight very soon.

    • Actually, Shirley, I’m frustrated by a council that doesn’t realise its purpose is to SERVE the residents. But squeezing the truth out of it is just a case of getting on with it and not giving up. Rather like cleaning your teeth, it’s something that has to be done, but it’s not worth getting emotional about it!!

      • Indeed, IT IS like cleaning your teeth – with an “All Purpose” cleaner – it makes you sick ! (recall my post on “All Purpose cleaner” and your post on “Keep shut at all times”)

  3. Yes David, you are doing a sterling job for which we are grateful, sadly the lack of communication from this Council isn’t just about the debacle of the Chief Executive’s salary. Previous announcements regarding issues like the London Road improvement which never materialise are equally never explained. I’m actually beginning to believe that the Councillors aren’t holding the residents in contempt, they just aren’t bright enough to understand what their responsibility is! If only there was a much larger groundswell of opinion, and one that was communicated to our Council leaders? Shall we march on the Civic Centre? I fear there would be very few of us….

    • I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been criticising the council for its poor communications. And it’s not unknown for residents to complain that councillors don’t respond to communications either. But you’re not quite right about the London Road Block – it’s just that deadlines have slipped without much in the way of public announcement. The latest info is “The revised targets
      for this objective are for a planning application to be submitted mid-2020, with development anticipated to be underway in early 2021.” However, I’ll not let the council off the hook; I’ll probably write about Arena before too long – I’ve just come across a 2006 newspaper cutting…..

  4. SHBC have admitted failure to carry out their Town planning oversight and regulatory compliance role. They are paid to “play at it”, they get it so badly wrong, and when exposed hide and sulk. They do not understand their responsibilities as they apply to Health, Fire and Safety. Residents are at Risk.

  5. I would not usually comment on any staffing matters for legal and privacy reasons. However, it is a matter of public record and on their website that the Surrey Police and Crime Panel had a public confirmation hearing in November 2019 with Mr Menon as their preferred candidate. He will therefore be leaving Surrey Heath in March and starting his new role then. I wish him well.

    • Many thanks for that reassuring news. On the one hand, I’m severely embarrassed for being tempted to jump to the wrong conclusions. On the other hand, ‘the council’ should realise that it is viewed with more than usual mistrust and speculation at the present time, and that it should work hard/harder to avoid otherwise-inevitable ‘misunderstandings’.

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