WALTHAM FOREST: Council fiasco plan set to be agreed

First published in Waltham Forest by

A PLAN to prevent a repeat of the long-term mismanagement of millions of pounds by Waltham Forest Council is set to be agreed by ruling councillors.

The comprehensive reform of internal procedures was ordered in the wake of the publication of a damning independent report, which found the authority had been left on a knife-edge by a systemic failure to manage its finances.

Cabinet members will on Tuesday discuss the plan, which aims to eradicate a pervading disregard for anti-fraud procedures regarding council contracts and an unwillingness to accept responsibility for failings.

The plan includes a review of human resources procedures to deliver a "new culture" based on collective responsibility.

The roles of leading councillors and senior officers will be "restated" in terms of standards, expectations and responsibilities.

Procurement and commissioning training will also be reviewed.

The plan includes measures to increase transparency and public participation in council activities, including improved cabinet reports and greater scrutiny of cabinet decisions.

Cabinet members are expected to formally turn down a request from Conservative group leader Matt Davis to produce a report into EduAction, the company which used to manage schools in the borough, with a view to a possible criminal prosecution.

The company was paid £250,000 to help vulnerable children, but doubts emerged over whether at-risk children received any support.

The Crown Prosecution Services decided not to launch criminal proceedings against the company following a police investigation last year.

But the council's director of finance is currently seeking recover the cash through the civil courts.

Critics of the independent report have said it failed to explain why the fiasco happened and hold those responsible to account.

Disciplinary proceedings against a number of council officers are ongoing.

Ruling Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have apologised for the failings.

Click here to follow the Waltham Forest Guardian on Twitter

Comments (17)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:28pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Touchwood says...

Shouldn't that read 'Misleading Councillors'!
Shouldn't that read 'Misleading Councillors'! Touchwood
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Mon 11 Jan 10

jrp says...

Homebase sold out of whitewash?
I am sick about reading that they will do this and do that. Meanwhile the poorest wards are still short of the monies that they were SUPPOSED to get. Pathetic. Plus why turn down the request for a report into EduAction? What are they scared of?
Homebase sold out of whitewash? I am sick about reading that they will do this and do that. Meanwhile the poorest wards are still short of the monies that they were SUPPOSED to get. Pathetic. Plus why turn down the request for a report into EduAction? What are they scared of? jrp
  • Score: 0

4:55pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

jrp wrote:
Homebase sold out of whitewash? I am sick about reading that they will do this and do that. Meanwhile the poorest wards are still short of the monies that they were SUPPOSED to get. Pathetic. Plus why turn down the request for a report into EduAction? What are they scared of?
The civil courts being used to recover the money is the bare minimum. Where are the prosecutions, where are the sackings (without compensation, pensions and references)?

You ask a good question - What are they scared of? Apparently the councillors who seem to have failed in their duties to properly protect the public (i.e. all of them) are not yet scared enough to break ranks and tell us which of these councillors have been protecting the miscreants. The main parties are even intending that these feeble people be allowed to stand again at the next election. Its all pretty unimpressive.
[quote][p][bold]jrp[/bold] wrote: Homebase sold out of whitewash? I am sick about reading that they will do this and do that. Meanwhile the poorest wards are still short of the monies that they were SUPPOSED to get. Pathetic. Plus why turn down the request for a report into EduAction? What are they scared of?[/p][/quote]The civil courts being used to recover the money is the bare minimum. Where are the prosecutions, where are the sackings (without compensation, pensions and references)? You ask a good question - What are they scared of? Apparently the councillors who seem to have failed in their duties to properly protect the public (i.e. all of them) are not yet scared enough to break ranks and tell us which of these councillors have been protecting the miscreants. The main parties are even intending that these feeble people be allowed to stand again at the next election. Its all pretty unimpressive. Techno2
  • Score: 0

5:06pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Walthamstow noob says...

"...an unwillingness to accept responsibility for failings."

"...a "new culture" based on collective responsibility."

So basically it's business as usual. Blame it on the system and nobody has to get fired or quit.

hah, security word 'bank-many' should end with 'laughing-all-way-to
'
"...an unwillingness to accept responsibility for failings." "...a "new culture" based on collective responsibility." So basically it's business as usual. Blame it on the system and nobody has to get fired or quit. hah, security word 'bank-many' should end with 'laughing-all-way-to ' Walthamstow noob
  • Score: 0

5:23pm Mon 11 Jan 10

newyear says...

Another classic case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. No doubt their hope (not unfounded I suspect) is that the issue has been neatly kicked into the long grass before the elections.
Another classic case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. No doubt their hope (not unfounded I suspect) is that the issue has been neatly kicked into the long grass before the elections. newyear
  • Score: 0

5:52pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Walthamster says...

Jrp, you got it in one. What a blatant whitewash. They get away with so much that they hardly even bother to pretend any more.

Why do none of our MPs take up the case of our failing council and our disappearing funds? I know MPs have no control over councils. But they are meant to speak for us to the government.

If you or I "disappeared" that much money we'd be in prison. But all the council gets is a series of little "must try harder" reports. No one on the council will take action against their friends and colleagues. Why will no higher authority -- police or government -- insist on prosecution?
Jrp, you got it in one. What a blatant whitewash. They get away with so much that they hardly even bother to pretend any more. Why do none of our MPs take up the case of our failing council and our disappearing funds? I know MPs have no control over councils. But they are meant to speak for us to the government. If you or I "disappeared" that much money we'd be in prison. But all the council gets is a series of little "must try harder" reports. No one on the council will take action against their friends and colleagues. Why will no higher authority -- police or government -- insist on prosecution? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

6:15pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Touchwood says...

It seems, with this Council, that to be a Councillor the prerequisite is the ability to be TOTALLY DISHONEST!!!
It seems, with this Council, that to be a Councillor the prerequisite is the ability to be TOTALLY DISHONEST!!! Touchwood
  • Score: 0

9:17pm Mon 11 Jan 10

mdj says...

'But the council's director of finance is currently seeking recover the cash through the civil courts..'

Isn't this one of the people who should have been sacked by now? Along with the chief legal adviser?
'Collective responsibility' is just a coy way of saying that no individual heads will roll, now or in the future.
Just as with the failed head of Ascham Homes, who has had to be paid to go away, when he has landed the Council (that's us) with liabilities into the millions.
We don't want criticisms or reviews; we want sackings, and probably arrests as well.
'But the council's director of finance is currently seeking recover the cash through the civil courts..' Isn't this one of the people who should have been sacked by now? Along with the chief legal adviser? 'Collective responsibility' is just a coy way of saying that no individual heads will roll, now or in the future. Just as with the failed head of Ascham Homes, who has had to be paid to go away, when he has landed the Council (that's us) with liabilities into the millions. We don't want criticisms or reviews; we want sackings, and probably arrests as well. mdj
  • Score: 0

9:22pm Mon 11 Jan 10

newyear says...

In answer to Walthamster's query "Why do none of our MPs take up the case" it might be helpful to recall that Neil Gerrard was himself once Leader of the Council, Harry Cohen has his own little local difficulties and Iain Duncan Smith is a Tory (need one say more!). Of our would-be MPs, Stella Creasy was both a borough Councillor and Mayor and as for Farid Ahmed, well frankly I neither know nor care. All we need to remember is that, whatever their colour, when the chips are down the political class closes ranks. Does that answer your query?
In answer to Walthamster's query "Why do none of our MPs take up the case" it might be helpful to recall that Neil Gerrard was himself once Leader of the Council, Harry Cohen has his own little local difficulties and Iain Duncan Smith is a Tory (need one say more!). Of our would-be MPs, Stella Creasy was both a borough Councillor and Mayor and as for Farid Ahmed, well frankly I neither know nor care. All we need to remember is that, whatever their colour, when the chips are down the political class closes ranks. Does that answer your query? newyear
  • Score: 0

9:53pm Mon 11 Jan 10

NT says...

I've written an open letter to all councillors today asking why material in the Independent Panel report still remains kept secret; and reminding them that (a) about a dozen NRF-BNI projects still need explanation, so outrageous were they; (b) we need to know who - if anybody - has been disciplined; and (c) Cabinet portfolio holders with responsibility for NRF-BNI affairs must explain what they knew about the shambles, and when.

The letter ends:

"In conclusion, as Sir Peter Rogers told the Yellow Advertiser in December, LBWF is currently 'sitting on a knife edge and can either go forward or backwards'. The Council has already suffered serious reputational damage - if you want to know how the outside world views recent events, just check the BBC news website story at http://news.bbc.co.u
k/1/hi/england/londo
n/8381724.stm. Under the leadership of Interim Chief Executive Mr. Roger Taylor, there was much rhetoric about turning over a new leaf, and allied extravagant expenditure on a series of consultants' reports, but little real change - indeed, the Council's record as regards respecting its own procurement rules actually deteriorated. LBWF cannot afford to squander another chance. The electorate is increasingly impatient with politicians, and angry at spin and procrastination. Regardless of who wins the next election, the public purse will become ever more constrained. Tolerance of waste and inefficiency will evaporate. The time is right to address the issues raised in the preceding paragraphs once and for all, and then move on".

It will be interesting to see how many councillors bother to reply.
I've written an open letter to all councillors today asking why material in the Independent Panel report still remains kept secret; and reminding them that (a) about a dozen NRF-BNI projects still need explanation, so outrageous were they; (b) we need to know who - if anybody - has been disciplined; and (c) Cabinet portfolio holders with responsibility for NRF-BNI affairs must explain what they knew about the shambles, and when. The letter ends: "In conclusion, as Sir Peter Rogers told the Yellow Advertiser in December, LBWF is currently 'sitting on a knife edge and can either go forward or backwards'. The Council has already suffered serious reputational damage - if you want to know how the outside world views recent events, just check the BBC news website story at http://news.bbc.co.u k/1/hi/england/londo n/8381724.stm. Under the leadership of Interim Chief Executive Mr. Roger Taylor, there was much rhetoric about turning over a new leaf, and allied extravagant expenditure on a series of consultants' reports, but little real change - indeed, the Council's record as regards respecting its own procurement rules actually deteriorated. LBWF cannot afford to squander another chance. The electorate is increasingly impatient with politicians, and angry at spin and procrastination. Regardless of who wins the next election, the public purse will become ever more constrained. Tolerance of waste and inefficiency will evaporate. The time is right to address the issues raised in the preceding paragraphs once and for all, and then move on". It will be interesting to see how many councillors bother to reply. NT
  • Score: 0

11:26pm Mon 11 Jan 10

Walthamster says...

Nick (NT), you're tireless in your pursuit of justice. You have done more than anyone else in this borough to bring these sleaze-merchants to account.

Of course it should not be down to you to spend your own time on this. But left to our elected representatives and council/government officials, nothing would ever be done.
Nick (NT), you're tireless in your pursuit of justice. You have done more than anyone else in this borough to bring these sleaze-merchants to account. Of course it should not be down to you to spend your own time on this. But left to our elected representatives and council/government officials, nothing would ever be done. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

11:49am Tue 12 Jan 10

newyear says...

I'm glad to see that my fears about this issue being kicked into the long grass were unfounded. Nick is like a terrier with a rat - thank heavens for him and other indomitable campaigners like him!
I'm glad to see that my fears about this issue being kicked into the long grass were unfounded. Nick is like a terrier with a rat - thank heavens for him and other indomitable campaigners like him! newyear
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Tue 12 Jan 10

NT says...

PS 24 hours have passed, and no councillor has replied yet, though one appended 'Nice one!" on an otherwise unconnected e-mail.
PS 24 hours have passed, and no councillor has replied yet, though one appended 'Nice one!" on an otherwise unconnected e-mail. NT
  • Score: 0

9:16am Wed 13 Jan 10

Sigi from Walthamstow says...

If you pay £250,000 to a builder and the person does not do the job then you either get your money back or you bring them to court.

Therefore the cabinet MUST support Cllr Matt Davies in his request to produce a report into EduAction -
(and any decent report will show who were the culprits!)
Criminal prosecution must be on the horizon.
The money must be recovered for the borough's vulnerable children.
If you pay £250,000 to a builder and the person does not do the job then you either get your money back or you bring them to court. Therefore the cabinet MUST support Cllr Matt Davies in his request to produce a report into EduAction - (and any decent report will show who were the culprits!) Criminal prosecution must be on the horizon. The money must be recovered for the borough's vulnerable children. Sigi from Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

12:12pm Wed 13 Jan 10

jrp says...

Sigi from Walthamstow wrote:
If you pay £250,000 to a builder and the person does not do the job then you either get your money back or you bring them to court.

Therefore the cabinet MUST support Cllr Matt Davies in his request to produce a report into EduAction -
(and any decent report will show who were the culprits!)
Criminal prosecution must be on the horizon.
The money must be recovered for the borough's vulnerable children.
The cabinet do not want the report because as you suggest then the culprits will be revealed. So if the cabinet do not want the report and they had the original unedited full report, I wonder where some of the culprits are!!!!!!!!! Not in the cabinet surely......Flying pig anyone?
[quote][p][bold]Sigi from Walthamstow[/bold] wrote: If you pay £250,000 to a builder and the person does not do the job then you either get your money back or you bring them to court. Therefore the cabinet MUST support Cllr Matt Davies in his request to produce a report into EduAction - (and any decent report will show who were the culprits!) Criminal prosecution must be on the horizon. The money must be recovered for the borough's vulnerable children.[/p][/quote]The cabinet do not want the report because as you suggest then the culprits will be revealed. So if the cabinet do not want the report and they had the original unedited full report, I wonder where some of the culprits are!!!!!!!!! Not in the cabinet surely......Flying pig anyone? jrp
  • Score: 0

1:20pm Wed 13 Jan 10

NT says...

Can I remind everyone that the issue regarding EduAction is not merely the matter of the YAR programme, worth £340,000, and the subject of a published LBWF Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team report (recycled by the Independent Panel), but also the matter of the c. £1m. that the BNI paid to EduAction in 2006, for exactly what no-one seems to know, which has received far less publicity.
Can I remind everyone that the issue regarding EduAction is not merely the matter of the YAR programme, worth £340,000, and the subject of a published LBWF Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team report (recycled by the Independent Panel), but also the matter of the c. £1m. that the BNI paid to EduAction in 2006, for exactly what no-one seems to know, which has received far less publicity. NT
  • Score: 0

1:29pm Wed 13 Jan 10

Techno2 says...

NT wrote:
Can I remind everyone that the issue regarding EduAction is not merely the matter of the YAR programme, worth £340,000, and the subject of a published LBWF Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team report (recycled by the Independent Panel), but also the matter of the c. £1m. that the BNI paid to EduAction in 2006, for exactly what no-one seems to know, which has received far less publicity.
Yes, the true scale of this is not yet understood by most people.
[quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Can I remind everyone that the issue regarding EduAction is not merely the matter of the YAR programme, worth £340,000, and the subject of a published LBWF Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team report (recycled by the Independent Panel), but also the matter of the c. £1m. that the BNI paid to EduAction in 2006, for exactly what no-one seems to know, which has received far less publicity.[/p][/quote]Yes, the true scale of this is not yet understood by most people. Techno2
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree