Monday, March 23, 2009

Folk Festival Fiasco: Report Due Today

At some point today it is expected that a report will be made available on the City Council's website (linked from the Civic Affairs committee 30th March meeting agenda here) about the City Council's investigation into the Folk Festival ticketing fiasco.

Nearly 8 months after £618,000 of taxpayers money was due to be handed over to the Council from the now insolvent company that managed online ticket sales for the 2008 Folk Festival, this will be the first information the councillors have had about what actually went so catastrophically wrong with this contract.

Clearly the Council should never have got itself into a contract that allowed a supplier to keep such a large amount of taxpayers money, and we need to know answers to stop this type of thing happening again with any other contracts, and to hold those responsible to account. But there will still be many questions to answer even after publishing this report - questions I have already raised about the Council's conduct since August, why it didn't escalate the problem sooner, and why even months after senior management and Councillors did become aware of the problem, it still hasn't taken up my suggestions for recovery of the funds.

Finally, I want to know how a Council that can behave with such a cavalier attitude to the protection of taxpayers funds as in this case, that also has £9m potentially lost in Iceland can still receive top marks from the audit commission (who also lost money in Iceland!) about the quality of its financial management. I fear it is yet another example of slavish following of central government box ticking requirements in order to score highly in assessments whilst ignoring the basics.

UPDATE: Report now available here.

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