Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Folk Festival Fiasco: Are the Lib Dems listening?

Following the financial mess at the City Council caused by their Iceland investments and the Folk Festival on-line ticketing Fiasco, Conservatives have long been calling for a wider enquiry into risk management, i.e. how the Council monitors risks and makes sure it has systems in place across the Council to pick up problems before they result in significant financial losses to Council taxpayers.

When the Folk Festival internal review was carried out, we called it a whitewash, with a promised independent review actually being carried out by internal audit, a branch of the Council's finance department, and focussed almost exclusively within the team responsible for putting on the Folk Festival. 

But there does finally seem to be some movement from the Lib Dems, and recognition that the problems might not just be a little local difficulty in one department. They have just issued a press release saying: 

"Cambridge Liberal Democrats are calling for a member-led Committee of Inquiry to be set up to investigate the broader implications of the 2008 Folk Festival.

The committee would look at issues raised in the 2008 Folk Festival independent review which could have a wider effect on the city council.

Cambridge City Councillor Tim Ward, a member of the Civic Affairs Committee, said: "We want to tighten up on procedures so that the problems we experienced with the Folk Festival last year can never be repeated."

Putting aside the bizarre suggestion that they need 'call for' an enquiry as if they are nothing to do with running the Council responsible for the mess, this does seem to be some belated recognition of the message we have been trying to tell them for months, and so todays announcement is welcome. 

Our point is that even if one department is making mistakes, systems within both finance and the legal department should kick in to ensure Council tax payers funds are protected - it is fairly clear both finance and legal knew about the arrangements, and we still need satisfactory answers as to why they were allowed to go ahead, costing taxpayers nearly £650.000.  If only we can get the Executive Councillor and Leader to show any indication that they feel in any way responsible for what goes on in the Council (when there is a problem of course - there is no such reticence if they think things are going well...), we will have made real progress.

Its a different story on the Icelandic investments - from the Lib Dems press release on that subject, everything is fine, and the Ostrich's head remains firmly stuck in the sand, but we will keep pressing them.


Anna Smith said...

The problem at Cambridge is all of the officers who knew how to do their jobs and perhaps had a hawkish eye to spot problems have been driven out as reactionaries lacking the 'can do attitude' and 'vision' for Cambridge.

Cambridge is now run by sycophants and toadies with little or no operational skills to steer Calamity Council through these most difficult of times.

Anonymous said...

The Lib Dems never listen to anyone,
they ignored the warnings about the council investments and didn't consult with residents before selling Tiverton House Old Peoples Home to 'developers' to be used as student accommodation. They are a law unto themselves and I think the council needs a Conseervative voice to put some common sense back into the council and regain some accountability.

Anna Smith said...

Agree with Anonymous who I think has hit upon a key aspect of Lib Dem strategy. The war in Iraq and Student tuition fees have destroyed the traditional student - labour vote. I am sure this accounts for their electoral success in the last few years which has created a virtual dictatorship.

Granting planning permission for more and more accomodation for non council tax paying students clearly benefits the Lib Dems cause.

For some reason the name - Dame Shirley Porter keeps coming to mind.