Thursday, November 13, 2014

Liz on Common Good £187K loss repayment aftermath - "Everything is in that report and if anyone wants to investigate further the information is there"

This article about discussion last night (12/11/14) at the River Community Council meeting in the URC hall is best read in conjunction with one posted beforehand entitled “£187K Common Good lease loss - Liz says members did ask questions in the past - report on fiasco will be in the public domain next week

After Liz finished her revealing, and possibly explosive, initial comments about the Common Good report Mike Henderson was quick off the mark, he said:

“If it is so simple to find out who they were why take them out in the first place. What are these officials trying to hide?”

Liz responded: “Everything is in that report and if anyone wants to investigate further the information is there.” 

Mike continued and reminisced about a meeting in the Courthouse: “I remember going up there with Tommy Hogg. I can’t remember who else was there in the Courthouse. There was a move afoot for the other CCs to get a foot in the door about the Common Good and we were told right at the start get your noses out of this and the councillors said “It’s in safe hands”. 

Liz came back: “Well I think the Councillors had asked the questions and we were given...” 

She was cut short by an intervention from Tommy Hogg, chairing the meeting, who said to Mike Henderson: “No you’re right enough there.”

Liz continued: “What we were told by William Gillfinnan was the legal advice we were given by Queen’s Counsel about the Council has the duty to administer the Common Good and I think that is why the Council have so quickly said we’re responsible for this because it had been questioned over the years.”

Tommy picked up his thread again: “He was adamant Liz, he was quite forceful actually, we were told to butt out.”

A little later in the debate Liz said: “There is a whole timetable there of what went wrong, how it happened and there are internal e-mails between officers about... flagging up the issue about there needing to be a rent review but it was never put to members and members had asked along the way at different times “How can we raise this rent for Parkdean and..”

Stephanie Whittaker then made an impassioned plea: “I think this shows there is a good case here for local people to be involved and on a board for the Common Good. It’s not fair to leave it to four local councillors and the rest of the Councillors in the Highland Region who don’t understand Nairn, who don’t come from Nairn and don’t care for it in the way we do.”

Simon Noble then had a question for Liz: “Can I ask about the decision to redact the names of the officers. I’m not making a plan to publicise peoples’ names, vilifying and all the rest of that. I think it is a really difficult situation for all concerned but can you tell us something about when the decision to redact the names was made and who was involved in that decision and how it was arrived at?”

Liz responded: “I was told yesterday from the Director of Finance, who has been extremely helpful in sorting out this mess, that the report was coming to the Audit and Scrutiny next week and I would assume it would have been done by the Chief Executive and the Directors to redact.”

“Is there any kind of explanation in the public arena about why the decision to redact was taken?” Added Simon.

Liz replied: “I don’t know why. I would imagine because that some of the folk are still employed by the Council.”

Simon Noble had a further contribution: “One of the difficulties about not knowing why is that it allows people to speculate that it’s about self-interest instead of sensitivity or whatever it might be because one can imagine...” 

Liz quickly said: “Well it is a very detailed report.”

Veteran, and elder stateswoman of River CC, Jeanne Tolmie then said: It will be very interesting to see this detailed report at last.”

Liz concluded: “We’ve now got files that we can actually go and see what is happening there. Before everything was held centrally.”

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