Dear West Suffolk Council,
The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 provides members of the public with rights to inspect, within an annual inspection window, the council’s accounts and related documents. It also provides local electors with the right to object to an item of the accounts. Prior to the 2014 Act these same rights were enshrined in the Audit Commission Act 1998.
As a regular user of these rights, in my capacity as a local journalist, local elector, member of accountability campaigns and academic researcher I am interested in understanding the frequency and the way in which these rights are being used across the country.
The MHCLG have recently launched an independent inquiry into the quality of local authority audit (the Redmond Review). One of the questions in the recent call for views asks whether the “the inspection and objection regime allow local residents to hold their council to account in an effective manner?” whilst also acknowledging that data is not currently gathered at a national level on the citizen uses of these rights. I feel there is therefore a strong public interest in the timely disclosure of the information in this request.
Please provide the following information:
A. For all the objections you received between 2009 and 2019 (i.e. relating to financial years 2008/9 to 2018/19 inclusive) please provide the following information in an excel spreadsheet. Please use the list below as column headers and compile the data for each objection in a separate row.
1. Objection reference no.
2. Financial year the objection relates to
3. Subject/summary of the objection
4. Date objection was received
5. Did objector ask the auditor make a referral to the High Court?
6. Did objector ask the auditor to issue a Public Interest Report?
7. Was the objection accepted as valid?
8. If not, why?
9. Was a public interest report issued?
10. Was a referral made to the High Court?
11. If so, what was the High Court’s decision?
12. Were any other recommendations made or actions taken by the auditor under the powers set out in Section 24 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act?
13. Date objector was sent a final decision notice
14. How much was the council charged by the auditor to carry out work in relation to the objection?
B. For all the inspection requests you received between 2009 and 2019 (i.e. relating to financial years from 2008/9 to 2018/19 inclusive), please provide the following information in an excel spreadsheet. Please use the list below as column headers and compile the data for each inspection request in a separate row.
1. Inspection reference number
2. Financial year inspection request refers to
3. Date request for information received
4. Was the request accepted as valid?
5. If not, why?
6. Was request transferred to FOI?
7. If transferred to FOI, what was the justification for doing so?
8. Subject/summary of request as recorded
9. Which department(s) dealt with the information request?
10. Date the response and documents requested were sent to requester
Megan I Waugh
Thank you for your request for information from West Suffolk Council (formerly Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils until 31 March 2019).
For details of our published information, please see the following:
includes the following data:
* Business rates
* Car park costs
* Councillors' allowances
* Fraud data
· Locality budgets
· Public Health funerals
· Purchase orders
· Tenders current
· Waste Contracts over £5000
· Gender pay gap report
· Organisation chart
· Pay Policy statement
· Senior staff salaries - Statement of accounts
· Senior staff salaries - Additional information including budgets, job roles and responsibilities
· Senior staff salaries - Remuneration summary
* Workforce development data
Additional information available on our website:
* Licensing registers - www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/licensing<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/licensing>
* Waste service/bins - www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bincollections<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bincollect...>
* we record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include bank holidays
· requests for matters dealt with by the county council should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council at www.suffolk.gov.uk<http://www.suffolk.gov.uk> eg
· roads and transport
· children, families, learning/schools
· adult social care and health
· public health in Suffolk
I refer to your freedom of information request set out in the email below.
This response is sent on behalf of West Suffolk Council which came into existence on 1 April 2019. It's predecessor councils were St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council. The request has been answered in respect of those 2 predecessor councils.
A. Objections received between 2009 and 2019 (i.e. relating to financial years 2008/9 to 2018/19 inclusive): No objections were received in this period.
B. Inspection requests: Please see attached document.
If you are unhappy with this response you may request an internal review of this matter via the Council’s corporate complaints procedure, the details of which can be found at: https://customer.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Page....
If after an internal review, you are still unhappy with the decision, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at the following address:
Information Commissioner’ Office
Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510
West Suffolk Council
West Suffolk Council is the Data Controller of the information you are providing. Any personal information shared by email will be processed, protected and disposed of in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018. In some circumstances we may need to disclose your personal details to a third party so that they can provide a service you have requested, fulfil a request for information or because we have a legal requirement to do so. Any information about you that we pass to a third party will be held securely by that party. For more information on how we do this and your rights in regards to your personal information and how to access it, visit our website: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/privacy/h...
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