Local Conservatives demand that R4U come clean on accounts failures
The leader of Uttlesford District Council Conservatives has joined other political group leaders in demanding an explanation as to why the Council’s independent auditors cannot sign off on the 2019/20 accounts – the first proper set to be published under the R4U-led Council.
Group Leader, Councillor Chris Criscione, said: “We know that when the Conservatives left office the Council had a healthy and sustainable balance sheet with reserves and no deficit, regardless of what R4U say to mislead residents on this subject.”
“Why then have the independent auditors refrained from signing off on this years’ accounts?”
“Councillors from all parties, including R4U, are being told that it’s down to governance shortcomings and an ongoing investigation of such seriousness that it means we cannot sign off on the accounts, which includes the all-important statement on governance.”
“That’s why we took the decision together with the Liberal Democrat and Green Party’s councillors in writing to the Council leader, demanding that the person or people under investigation resign to allow us to meet our statutory deadline for publishing the accounts. After all, it’s R4U that have been calling for greater transparency and democratic accountability… that’s quite the hypocrisy.”
“This issue clearly has nothing to do with politics, given that three completely different parties have come together out of a shared concern at the present situation.”
“Resigning, even if temporarily, is the right and proper thing to do. We hope that common sense prevails.”
Jim Ketteridge, former Conservative leader of Uttlesford District Council who turned around a near bankrupt council in 2007, said: "We know all about R4U's very poor track record of governance and financial management from the misleading information continually emanating from Saffron Walden Town Council."
He continued: "In all my years in local government I have never seen such a situation at Uttlesford DC, involving such a total lack of transparency with absolutely no explanation or clarification from Cllr Lodge, the present Leader except to say that it is a confidential matter."
Uttlesford’s accounts show £17.082m in reserves and a reasonable annual surplus near to £400k, both brought forward under the Conservative administration in 2018/19. R4U inherited this surplus and reserves, in addition to the widely acclaimed Conservative investment in Chesterford Research Park and over £1m in government funding to assist them in getting through the pandemic.
R4U Leader, Councillor John Lodge, is still in hiding.