We’re no accountant, but…


The latest borough council draft Financial Statement is available on the council’s website.  It’s a detailed documentPeter has written about the council’s purchase of The Square.  As we’re not an accountant, we’ll quote him verbatim:

“Within a period of 40 months from the date of purchase yields have doubled, rents have declined to the point that some premises operate rent-free, and voids are at a far higher level than forecasted. All of this was foreseeable and retail industry and commercial property experts were warning of this early in 2016. Also, in 2016 in the US, where internet shopping was more advanced than in the UK, Malls were closing at a rapid rate as consumers changed their shopping habits.

“The Council, in the financial year 2015-16 prior to the purchase of the Mall, had reserves of £47 million and cash net of debt £7 million. As at 31 March 2020, pre Covid-19, the reserves were NEGATIVE £31 million and DEBT net of cash £ 145 million. A diminution in reserves of £78 million and a debt increase of £152 million.

“Tonight, there’s a meeting of the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee  (watch on Youtube from 7pm, https://www.youtube.com/user/SurreyHeathBC).  One item on the agenda is titled ‘Property Investments’:  the Committee is seeking an independent inquiry into the Council’s acquisition of The Mall and other properties.”

What is particularly galling about this horrendous decline in OUR finances is that it took place whilst the previous Chief Executive was in power.  Yet the Financial Statement appears to show that she continued to receive her full salary while on extended leave – the lengthy period during which her ‘additional duties’ allowance was being investigated.


9 thoughts on “We’re no accountant, but…

  1. I guess we all expected a reduction in the value of assets in the current situation and some real challenges on expenditure but these figures are staggering. I have not checked the financials with the sort of depth and insight shown by Peter but I thought I ought to do some scrutiny. It certainly looks to me like Peter’s analysis is right. There are some very serious questions that need answering and more public engagement, especially on what happens next.

  2. Unbelievable incompetence, bad decisions and fraudulent use of public money, and yet she has not been investigated by the police. In the ten years of her reign why did no one whistleblow, where was this finance and scrutiny Committee then? Many heads should roll for this, there must be further investigation and others involved in this debacle must be removed.

  3. I have some sympathy with junior staff who didn’t whistleblow. The former chief executive has been described as a bully (I stress, this is hearsay. I have no personal experience as evidence.) Under those circumstances, especially if you have a mortgage to pay, or mouths to feed, keeping quiet is very understandable. But any senior staff who knew what was happening and said nothing have undermined their suitability to BE ‘senior staff’. They had a bigger responsibility than just doing the job.

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