PFI Advisers - Conflict of Interest

Megan Ingles made this Freedom of Information request to Northumberland County Council

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 successful.

Dear Northumberland County Council,

I am writing to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Please confirm who your local authority has appointed as external auditor for the financial year 2016/17.

Please provide a list of all accounting firms which have advised or continue to advise the local authority on each of its PFI contracts. I am interested in companies which have provided legal, financial, governance and audit advice at any stage of the PFI project from initiation through procurement to operation.

Please provide documents showing the local authority’s current protocols around determining and declaring conflicts of interest in relation to its external auditors.

Have there been any incidences of potential or actual conflict of interest in relation to the local authority’s external auditors? If so please disclose all relevant documentation relating to this, which may include but not be restricted to emails, memos, reports and declarations of conflict of interest.

Yours faithfully,

Megan Ingles

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 2619  

Dear Enquirer,

INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information which will be dealt with under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

If you have any queries about this matter please contact us. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk

Northumberland County Council

2 Attachments

Our Ref: 2619

Dear Enquirer,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST 

I refer to your Freedom of Information request in relation to PFI
advisers.

Right of Access 

Section 1(1) of the Act provides any person making a request for
information to a public authority is entitled. 

(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds
information of the description specified in the request (which Section
1(6) of the Act designates as the "duty to confirm or deny"), and 

(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him. 

The right is to obtain access to the information itself and not to the
document or record which contains it. 

The Act creates a general right of access to information held by public
authorities subject to various exemptions. 

Northumberland County Council confirms that it holds the information you
have requested, please see the following information in response. 

Please confirm who your local authority has appointed as external auditor
for the financial year 2016/17.
-The Audit Commission appointed Ernst Young as Northumberland County
Council's auditors for 2016-17.

Please provide a list of all accounting firms which have advised or
continue to advise the local authority on each of its PFI contracts. I am
interested in companies which have provided legal, financial, governance
and audit advice at any stage of the PFI project from initiation through
procurement to operation.
-The Council has sought advice from PricewaterhouseCoopers from initiation
through procurement to operation for both the PFI contracts which are
currently in place. Advice has not been sought from any of the other
accountancy firms.Dickinson Dees (now Bond Dickinson) provided legal
advice for both PFI contracts.
Please provide documents showing the local authority’s current protocols
around determining and declaring conflicts of interest in relation to its
external auditors.

-Please find attached member and officer codes of conduct which set out
how any interests should be declared by members and officers of the
Council respectively.

 

From an external auditor’s perspective please refer to pages 12 and 13 of
the Council’s Audit Plan of March 2017.

[1]http://committeedocs.northumberland.gov....

Have there been any incidences of potential or actual conflict of interest
in relation to the local authority’s external auditors? If so please
disclose all relevant documentation relating to this, which may include
but not be restricted to emails, memos, reports and declarations of
conflict of interest.

- The Council has received no such incidences beyond that attached.
Complaints 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request an internal review by writing within 2 months
from the date of this response to the Information Governance Office: 

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF 

Email: [2][Northumberland County Council request email] 

Information Commissioner 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a
right by Section 50 of the Act to apply to the Information Commissioner
for a decision as to whether your request has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act at: 

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

Tel: 01625 545 745
Email: [3][email address

There is no charge for making an appeal. 

Yours sincerely 

FOI Coordinator - Corporate Resources
Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [4][Northumberland County Council request email] 
Web: [5]http://www.northumberland.gov.uk 

References

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