Correspondence with Ammanford Town Council for fiscal years 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18

Daniel Morris made this Freedom of Information request to Wales Audit Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wales Audit Office,

Please can you provide all correspondence between yourselves and Ammanford Town Council (inbound & outbound) for each of the fiscal years:

2015/16
2016/17
2017/18

Yours faithfully,

D Morris

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

Dear Mr Morris

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request for information in your email below.

I am considering your request in accordance with the procedures set out on the Wales Audit Office website at: http://www.audit.wales/openness-and-tran...

The procedures are intended to ensure that requests are dealt with in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Code of Practice set under section 45 of the 2000 Act and other relevant legislation.

I shall write to you again once I am in a position to provide a substantive response, though I may write to you before then if I need to clarify your request.

Please note that we have a policy of publishing in a disclosure log on our website information that we provide in response to requests where we consider that this is in the public interest. We will not, however, publish personal information if this would be unfair and so breach the first data protection principle. In line with this, we will generally not disclose the identity or other personal information of requesters. We will, however, disclose the identity of requesters if this is in the public interest and doing so would be fair, such as in the case of holders of public office. If you have any concerns regarding inclusion of our response to you in the disclosure log, please let me know.

In the meantime, if you have any queries, you are welcome to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Katherine Drysdale
Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer
Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572
E-bost: katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru
E-mail: katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: www.archwilio.cymru
Wales Audit Office: www.audit.wales

show quoted sections

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

Dear Mr Morris

Further to my email below dated 17 October 2018 I would advise that in order for us to process your request we need to understand more clearly the information you are seeking.

In your request you refer to "all correspondence between yourselves and the Ammanford Town Council" and I should be grateful if you could clarify who you are referring to by "yourself" as the Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office are separate legal entities, and contractors may also carry out some audit work on behalf of the Auditor General.

It would also assist if you could advise whether you are interested in correspondence on a particular matter or topic.

Please be aware that the legal response time of 20 working days for responding to your request will be recalculated when we receive this clarification from you.

Yours sincerely

Katherine Drysdale
Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer
Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572
E-bost: katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru
E-mail: katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: www.archwilio.cymru
Wales Audit Office: www.audit.wales

show quoted sections

Dear Ms Drysdale,

Sorry I missed your original message of 18 October 2018.

I'm looking for audited accounts of Ammanford Town Council along with correspondence between the Audit Office/Auditor General (eg letters to the effect of "send your accounts", "your accounts are late", "why are your accounts still late, send them", "send your accounts or we'll..." and any replies).

The natural place to look for these accounts would of course be the Council's Minutes - but (despite Parliamentary & Welsh Government legislation) they haven't been publishing ratified Minutes for more than two years. Efforts to liberate the Minutes via Freedom Of Information requests have failed, despite the ICO assigning six different members of staff to investigate. The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is over 11 months into an investigation and is almost about to write a report about how the Council doesn't adhere to the 1972 Local Government Act, nor publish a complaints procedure (that other agencies say must be exhausted before they can proceed with an investigation) etc. The PSOW also fined the Council, hoping to effect an early resolution.

I expected that the Council would have to file audited accounts with a responsible body and figured that would be yourselves. We seem to be teetering on the brink of a "if a tree falls in the forest and no-one is around to hear then does it make a sound?" like question, if a Town Council has only to "publish" its accounts to itself.

Yours sincerely,
D Morris

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

Dear Mr Morris

Thank you for your clarification below. I confirm that I am now processing your request in accordance with the procedures set out on the Wales Audit Office website at: http://www.audit.wales/openness-and-tran... and I shall write to you again once I am in a position to provide a substantive response.

Please note that we have a policy of publishing in a disclosure log on our website information that we provide in response to requests where we consider that this is in the public interest. We will not, however, publish personal information if this would be unfair and so breach the first data protection principle. In line with this, we will generally not disclose the identity or other personal information of requesters. We will, however, disclose the identity of requesters if this is in the public interest and doing so would be fair, such as in the case of holders of public office. If you have any concerns regarding inclusion of our response to you in the disclosure log, please let me know.

In the meantime, if you have any queries, you are welcome to contact me.

Yours sincerely,
Katherine

Katherine Drysdale
Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer
Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572
E-bost: katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru
E-mail: katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: www.archwilio.cymru
Wales Audit Office: www.audit.wales

Ysgrifennwch ataf yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg
Please write to me in Welsh or English

show quoted sections

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

7 Attachments

Dear Mr Morris

 

I am writing in response to your request for information as clarified in
your email below dated 23 November 2018 in which you requested information
regarding correspondence with Ammanford Town Council.

 

For ease of reference, I have reproduced your question below and set out
our corresponding response.

 

I'm looking for audited accounts of Ammanford Town Council along with
correspondence between the Audit Office/Auditor General (eg letters to the
effect of "send your accounts", "your accounts are late", "why are your
accounts still late, send them", "send your accounts or we'll..." and any
replies).

We do not currently hold the audited accounts for Ammanford Town Council
for 2017-18 as the audit has not been completed. The Town Council is in
any event required to publish its year end accounts and these should be
made available on its website.

 

We hold some information regarding communication between Messrs Grant
Thornton, who were engaged by the Auditor General to conduct the 2017/18
audit, and Ammanford Town Council in relation to requests for the annual
return and a pdf is attached which includes the relevant information. 
Please note that I have redacted some personal information in relation to
the parties to the communications under the exemption at s40(2) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosures under the Act are into the
wider public domain and I consider that release of this information would
not be within the reasonable expectation of the individuals concerned. As
such, the disclosure is likely to be unfair and to disclose would be a
breach of the Data Protection Act principle concerning fairness.  I have
also redacted some information which does not match the description of the
information requested.

 

If you wish to complain about the handling of your request, please write
to Martin Peters, Head of Law and Ethics, by email to
[1]martin.peters@audit.wales or by post to 24 Cathedral Road, Cardiff,
CF11 9LJ.

 

I must also refer you to section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act
under which you may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision
on whether or not your request has been dealt with in accordance with the
Act. The Information Commissioner’s contact details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office               
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

email : [2][email address]

Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510

 

You should note, however, that the Information Commissioner would normally
expect you to have exhausted our internal complaints procedures before
dealing with such an application. Further guidance may be found on the
Information Commissioner’s website: [3]https://ico.org.uk/

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [4]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [5]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [6]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [7]www.audit.wales

 

 

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show quoted sections

Dear Ms Drysdale,

Thanks for the correspondence regarding 2017/18. Do you hold information for years 2015/16 & 2016/17, per my request?

I'm not surprised at Messrs Grant Thornton's frustration in 17/18. Town Councillors let slip recently that they had around 10% of the annual budget stuck in a 'Misc' column that the were struggling to account for. I wonder if Grant Thornton offered a fixed-price service or will invoice on a T&M basis?

As for publishing the audited accounts on the Council's website; well:
1) they have regained control of the domain after losing it in the summer (non payment of domain registration/renewal)
2) they now have a WordPress instance with layout cloned from a previous version of the website
3) it provides three contact points, the current Mayor's dodgy-looking yahoo address, the Clerk who left many months ago, and the Mayor from 2015 (who's abandoned politics and works in a local store)
4) depending on which page you view, they have 14 or 15 elected Councillors, the names differ and include both the most recently elected Town Councillor and others who have long-since resigned
5) the site has no substantive content, as it is "Under Construction", holding a few "Minutes" only that were partially released in a response to FOI requests and ICO intervention. The "Minutes" appear to be bullet points/notes from Meetings and notably were marked as 'drafts' rather than ratified
6) the website throws a security exception with modern browsers

I would hope that you hold a more permanent audited record of tax payers' expenditure for previous years, as clearly Ammanford Town Council can't currently be trusted to do so.

Yours sincerely,

D Morris

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

Dear Mr Morris

My apologies for not specifically covering the 2015/16 and 2016/17 years in my response - I will check the position and revert to you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely
Katherine

Katherine Drysdale
Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer
Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572
E-bost: katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru
E-mail: katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: www.archwilio.cymru
Wales Audit Office: www.audit.wales

show quoted sections

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

7 Attachments

Dear Mr Morris

 

Further to my email below I would advise that we do not hold the audited
accounts for Ammanford Town Council for 2016-17 as the audit has not been
completed.

 

We hold a copy of the annual return for 2015-16 (which the Council has a
duty to publish under section 55 of the Local Government (Democracy)
(Wales) Act 2013) and this is attached, together with a copy of the annual
audit letter for that year. I have notified the Council that this
information has been provided in response to a request under the Freedom
of Information Act as it would not appear to be reasonably accessible to
you by other means, that is, by publication on the Town Council website.

 

In relation to the correspondence between Messrs Grant Thornton and
Ammanford Town Council the attachment provided under cover of my email
dated 18 December relates to the 2016-17 audit as well as the 2017-18
audit. We are making further checks as to any such correspondence in
relation to the 2015-16 audit and I will revert to you on this separately.

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [1]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [2]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [3]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [4]www.audit.wales

 

 

[5]cid:image001.png@01D4540A.F7028290 [6]Dilynwch / Follow @WalesAudit
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From: Information Officer
Sent: 18 December 2018 07:57
To: 'Daniel Morris' <[FOI #526824 email]>
Subject: IR665 Correspondence with Ammanford Town Council

 

Dear Mr Morris

 

I am writing in response to your request for information as clarified in
your email below dated 23 November 2018 in which you requested information
regarding correspondence with Ammanford Town Council.

 

For ease of reference, I have reproduced your question below and set out
our corresponding response.

 

I'm looking for audited accounts of Ammanford Town Council along with
correspondence between the Audit Office/Auditor General (eg letters to the
effect of "send your accounts", "your accounts are late", "why are your
accounts still late, send them", "send your accounts or we'll..." and any
replies).

We do not currently hold the audited accounts for Ammanford Town Council
for 2017-18 as the audit has not been completed. The Town Council is in
any event required to publish its year end accounts and these should be
made available on its website.

 

We hold some information regarding communication between Messrs Grant
Thornton, who were engaged by the Auditor General to conduct the 2017/18
audit, and Ammanford Town Council in relation to requests for the annual
return and a pdf is attached which includes the relevant information. 
Please note that I have redacted some personal information in relation to
the parties to the communications under the exemption at s40(2) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosures under the Act are into the
wider public domain and I consider that release of this information would
not be within the reasonable expectation of the individuals concerned. As
such, the disclosure is likely to be unfair and to disclose would be a
breach of the Data Protection Act principle concerning fairness.  I have
also redacted some information which does not match the description of the
information requested.

 

If you wish to complain about the handling of your request, please write
to Martin Peters, Head of Law and Ethics, by email to
[15]martin.peters@audit.wales or by post to 24 Cathedral Road, Cardiff,
CF11 9LJ.

 

I must also refer you to section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act
under which you may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision
on whether or not your request has been dealt with in accordance with the
Act. The Information Commissioner’s contact details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office               
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

email : [16][email address]

Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510

 

You should note, however, that the Information Commissioner would normally
expect you to have exhausted our internal complaints procedures before
dealing with such an application. Further guidance may be found on the
Information Commissioner’s website: [17]https://ico.org.uk/

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [18]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [19]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [20]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [21]www.audit.wales

 

 

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Facebook
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show quoted sections

Information Officer, Wales Audit Office

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Morris

 

Further to my email below, I have made further enquiries in relation to
any additional ‘chasing correspondence’, particularly in respect of the
2015-16 audit, and can confirm that no further information is held.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

Katherine

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [1]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [2]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [3]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [4]www.audit.wales

 

 

[5]cid:image001.png@01D4540A.F7028290 [6]Dilynwch / Follow @WalesAudit
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Facebook
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From: Information Officer
Sent: 21 December 2018 12:49
To: 'Daniel Morris' <[FOI #526824 email]>
Subject: IR665 Correspondence with Ammanford Town Council

 

Dear Mr Morris

 

Further to my email below I would advise that we do not hold the audited
accounts for Ammanford Town Council for 2016-17 as the audit has not been
completed.

 

We hold a copy of the annual return for 2015-16 (which the Council has a
duty to publish under section 55 of the Local Government (Democracy)
(Wales) Act 2013) and this is attached, together with a copy of the annual
audit letter for that year. I have notified the Council that this
information has been provided in response to a request under the Freedom
of Information Act as it would not appear to be reasonably accessible to
you by other means, that is, by publication on the Town Council website.

 

In relation to the correspondence between Messrs Grant Thornton and
Ammanford Town Council the attachment provided under cover of my email
dated 18 December relates to the 2016-17 audit as well as the 2017-18
audit. We are making further checks as to any such correspondence in
relation to the 2015-16 audit and I will revert to you on this separately.

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [15]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [16]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [17]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [18]www.audit.wales

 

 

[19]cid:image001.png@01D4540A.F7028290 [20]Dilynwch / Follow @WalesAudit
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From: Information Officer
Sent: 18 December 2018 07:57
To: 'Daniel Morris' <[29][FOI #526824 email]>
Subject: IR665 Correspondence with Ammanford Town Council

 

Dear Mr Morris

 

I am writing in response to your request for information as clarified in
your email below dated 23 November 2018 in which you requested information
regarding correspondence with Ammanford Town Council.

 

For ease of reference, I have reproduced your question below and set out
our corresponding response.

 

I'm looking for audited accounts of Ammanford Town Council along with
correspondence between the Audit Office/Auditor General (eg letters to the
effect of "send your accounts", "your accounts are late", "why are your
accounts still late, send them", "send your accounts or we'll..." and any
replies).

We do not currently hold the audited accounts for Ammanford Town Council
for 2017-18 as the audit has not been completed. The Town Council is in
any event required to publish its year end accounts and these should be
made available on its website.

 

We hold some information regarding communication between Messrs Grant
Thornton, who were engaged by the Auditor General to conduct the 2017/18
audit, and Ammanford Town Council in relation to requests for the annual
return and a pdf is attached which includes the relevant information. 
Please note that I have redacted some personal information in relation to
the parties to the communications under the exemption at s40(2) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosures under the Act are into the
wider public domain and I consider that release of this information would
not be within the reasonable expectation of the individuals concerned. As
such, the disclosure is likely to be unfair and to disclose would be a
breach of the Data Protection Act principle concerning fairness.  I have
also redacted some information which does not match the description of the
information requested.

 

If you wish to complain about the handling of your request, please write
to Martin Peters, Head of Law and Ethics, by email to
[30]martin.peters@audit.wales or by post to 24 Cathedral Road, Cardiff,
CF11 9LJ.

 

I must also refer you to section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act
under which you may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision
on whether or not your request has been dealt with in accordance with the
Act. The Information Commissioner’s contact details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office               
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

email : [31][email address]

Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524510

 

You should note, however, that the Information Commissioner would normally
expect you to have exhausted our internal complaints procedures before
dealing with such an application. Further guidance may be found on the
Information Commissioner’s website: [32]https://ico.org.uk/

 

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Katherine Drysdale

Swyddog Gwybodaeth/ Information Officer

Y Gyfraith a Moeseg/ Law & Ethics

 

Ffôn / Tel: 02920 320572

E-bost: [33]katherine.drysdale@archwilio.cymru

E-mail: [34]katherine.drysdale@audit.wales

 

Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru: [35]www.archwilio.cymru

Wales Audit Office: [36]www.audit.wales

 

 

[37]cid:image001.png@01D4540A.F7028290 [38]Dilynwch / Follow @WalesAudit
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Facebook
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our blog
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show quoted sections

Daniel Morris left an annotation ()

Marked as partially successful as the Wales Audit Office only holds some of the information requested, on account of Ammanford Town Council being over 18 months late publishing 16/17 figures, 7 months late for 17/18 and external audit being delayed accordingly. If they were a limited company then they'd have been censured and struck off by now.

Dear Ms Drysdale,

Thank you for your help and thoroughness in searching for this information.

Yours sincerely,

D Morris