WALTHAM FOREST: Council cohesion spending reported to police

A COMPLAINT has been made to police about £250,000 spent by the council which has not been fully accounted for.

The report centres on money hastily spent in the wake of the terrorism arrests in 2006 on the One Community Campaign.

Auditors found a number of incomplete files marked ‘social cohesion’ while carrying out a review of council spending under the Better Neighbourhoods Initiative (BNI).

The fund was supposed to be spent on Waltham Forest’s most deprived areas, but council leader Clyde Loakes used delegated powers as then chair of the Local Strategic Partnership to authorise the expenditure on the campaign.

Documents compiled by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers provide further evidence of the long-term chaos which characterised council spending under BNI and its predecessor, the neighbourhood renewal fund (NRF).

The files show no contracts were in place and the expenditure was not monitored or audited.

The refusal of Cllr Loakes and chief executive Andrew Kilburn to respond to questions raised by Nick Tiratsoo, whose research has uncovered widespread mismanagement of BNI/NRF, have prompted him to lodge the formal complaint.

Cllr Loakes has never accepted any personal responsibility for the mismanagement of funds and says he gave approval for the spending “following the production of appropriate paperwork for each project and detailed discussions with officers".

Chief executive Andrew Kilburn recently insisted that “there was a clear process of accountability in relation to the allocation of funding”.

Detectives from the specialist crime directorate are already investigating claims that EduAction, the company which used to manage education in the borough, used NRF money to boost profits.

The cohesion files show a consultant was paid £66,011 from BNI for a four-month stint in the council press office, although he maintains he was only paid £6,600.

Another document reveals a one-day conference to advise school staff on cohesion cost the taxpayer £480 for each of the 50 people who were expected to attend.

Mr Tiratsoo said: “The Chief Executive’s failure to answer my perfectly reasonable questions in the generous 28 working days stipulated by his own organisation’s customer care standards is deplorable.

“The bottom line is that some £250,000 of public money just disappeared into thin air. This is an appalling situation which self-evidently demands explanation.

“Given that both the Chief Executive and Councillor Loakes (who was much involved in these projects) are apparently unwilling to comment, I have come to the conclusion that the only option left to me is a formal complaint to the police.”

Some of Cllr Loakes Labour Party colleagues in Leyton and Wanstead are so concerned about the BNI/NRF fiasco that they have passed a strongly worded resolution calling for misused money to be paid back by the council.

Comments (5)

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6:49pm Mon 1 Dec 08

Bert Small says...

What absolute poppycock!

Only today it is announced that Boris is giving LBWF nearly half a million for transport matters to the same Custodians being investigated.

Mr Walthamster, a contributor, made a great point about this matter and hit the nail on the head.

I do hope that no stone is left unturned and if irregularities are found, the culprits are given more than a smack on the wrist.
What absolute poppycock! Only today it is announced that Boris is giving LBWF nearly half a million for transport matters to the same Custodians being investigated. Mr Walthamster, a contributor, made a great point about this matter and hit the nail on the head. I do hope that no stone is left unturned and if irregularities are found, the culprits are given more than a smack on the wrist. Bert Small
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Tue 2 Dec 08

Walthamster says...

At last a chance that at least one of this council's financial scandals will be investigated by the police.

This is long overdue. Also, it is all being exposed by a local campaigner, even though the correct authorities have been informed.

Why have none of the authorities made any effort to find out why huge sums of money vanish into thin air in Waltham Forest?
At last a chance that at least one of this council's financial scandals will be investigated by the police. This is long overdue. Also, it is all being exposed by a local campaigner, even though the correct authorities have been informed. Why have none of the authorities made any effort to find out why huge sums of money vanish into thin air in Waltham Forest? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

2:10pm Tue 2 Dec 08

enna says...

It goes to show what type of borough we live in. How £250,000 of PUBLIC MONEY can go missing and it takes a local campigner to spot it or did he just point out something they already knew and where trying to sweep it under the carpet is a disgrace. Again WF glossing over the cracks. Cllr Loakes must take some of the blame as he signed the paper work it must not have all been present when he did sign as we would not be having this problem now. Let see how these bunch of magicians make this not lot of transport money going missing.
It goes to show what type of borough we live in. How £250,000 of PUBLIC MONEY can go missing and it takes a local campigner to spot it or did he just point out something they already knew and where trying to sweep it under the carpet is a disgrace. Again WF glossing over the cracks. Cllr Loakes must take some of the blame as he signed the paper work it must not have all been present when he did sign as we would not be having this problem now. Let see how these bunch of magicians make this not lot of transport money going missing. enna
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Tue 2 Dec 08

Disillusioned 4 Years says...

I have no faith in this current administration that lead Waltham Forest. Not sure if lead is even the right word to use. We do what we wnat to do!!!!!!
Its time that Labour were ousted. So the Lib Dems and Conservatives haven't really got their work cut out. They need to seize upon this opportunity now and start campaiging for change. They (Labour) are doing their own local party damage. The word transparent comes to mind. They are definitely guilt of running rough shod the way they go about: Out-sourcing and the way they are pushing out BSF. A petition submitted over one of the all through schools was accepted as one vote!!!! Why? Where is the so called democracy it preaches. Consultation in this Local Authority means. We tell you what we are doing! We may listen to your opinions! Then we implement it! Simple. Consultation means absolutely NOWT.
What we should all remember is that they (Labour) have mishandled 7million pounds of grants. Yet they seem adamant in focusing on a private company that has supposedly misused 250K. (No evidence yet!) A for PROFIT organisation that was brought into because the Local Authority (LBWF) failed its OFSTED. LBWF appointed that for PROFIT private company to manage its services. They have had 7 years to get its act together, ready to take it all back and yet its still all a bit messy.
The one word that does come to mind this time is Blame Culture. Under Labour in Waltham Forest they are totally guilty of this. Blaming others but not taking responsibilty of their own failure.
I have no faith in this current administration that lead Waltham Forest. Not sure if lead is even the right word to use. We do what we wnat to do!!!!!! Its time that Labour were ousted. So the Lib Dems and Conservatives haven't really got their work cut out. They need to seize upon this opportunity now and start campaiging for change. They (Labour) are doing their own local party damage. The word transparent comes to mind. They are definitely guilt of running rough shod the way they go about: Out-sourcing and the way they are pushing out BSF. A petition submitted over one of the all through schools was accepted as one vote!!!! Why? Where is the so called democracy it preaches. Consultation in this Local Authority means. We tell you what we are doing! We may listen to your opinions! Then we implement it! Simple. Consultation means absolutely NOWT. What we should all remember is that they (Labour) have mishandled 7million pounds of grants. Yet they seem adamant in focusing on a private company that has supposedly misused 250K. (No evidence yet!) A for PROFIT organisation that was brought into because the Local Authority (LBWF) failed its OFSTED. LBWF appointed that for PROFIT private company to manage its services. They have had 7 years to get its act together, ready to take it all back and yet its still all a bit messy. The one word that does come to mind this time is Blame Culture. Under Labour in Waltham Forest they are totally guilty of this. Blaming others but not taking responsibilty of their own failure. Disillusioned 4 Years
  • Score: 0

9:49am Wed 3 Dec 08

Technomist says...

Disillusioned 4 years - you think that "They (Labour) are doing their own local party damage."

There is no party. The decent people left it some time ago. As them how many actual members they have these days. What is left is an unrepresentative rump. There are possibly one or two 'true believers' but all parties have their insane activists who would walk off a cliff if told to, but mainly the party is now made up of people who are using the Labour 'brand' for the sole purpose of networking and hanging on to their positions of power and personal income. There is quite an unprincipled clique among them, who have no incentive to change. They will live or die by their code of closing ranks, as there have been some very dodgy things going on round here. Many people think the Labour Party actually needs to be kicked well out of office for it to have any chance of reforming itself and getting rid of these people.
Disillusioned 4 years - you think that "They (Labour) are doing their own local party damage." There is no party. The decent people left it some time ago. As them how many actual members they have these days. What is left is an unrepresentative rump. There are possibly one or two 'true believers' but all parties have their insane activists who would walk off a cliff if told to, but mainly the party is now made up of people who are using the Labour 'brand' for the sole purpose of networking and hanging on to their positions of power and personal income. There is quite an unprincipled clique among them, who have no incentive to change. They will live or die by their code of closing ranks, as there have been some very dodgy things going on round here. Many people think the Labour Party actually needs to be kicked well out of office for it to have any chance of reforming itself and getting rid of these people. Technomist
  • Score: 0
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