Explanation

PUBLISHED: 12:43 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 18:00 31 May 2010

At last some sense from your correspondent P Damary-Homan (letter published in the Reporter January 3) about apportionment of blame in the Uttlesford District Council budget crisis. Perhaps a word of explanation would help? A council is required to set a

At last some sense from your correspondent P Damary-Homan (letter published in the Reporter January 3) about apportionment of blame in the Uttlesford District Council budget crisis. Perhaps a word of explanation would help?

A council is required to set a balanced budget and should have an adequate system of internal budgetary control. That will be backed up by its own internal auditors who will be responsible to ensure that an adequate control system is in place.

The job of councillors through their Audit Committee (or whatever it is called locally) is, amongst other things, to make sure that the council has an adequate and effective internal audit function and to approve the council's annual accounts. That means asking the right questions at the right time and ensuring it is given satisfactory answers.

While the Audit Committee does not set spending policy it should make sure that the appropriate people are given figures regularly enough for overspends to be identified before they become a crisis.

As LibDem chairman of Tory-run Cambridgeshire's Audit and Accounts Committee I have no difficulty with this system.

Your correspondent is absolutely right that we don't do the auditing ourselves and we have to rely on the council's staff and the answers they give us. But that seems to work perfectly well in Cambridgeshire.

What we have yet to be told is exactly what went wrong in Uttlesford. The allegations and counter-allegations we have seen in the Reporter leave us entirely in the dark.

Tim Stone

Whittlesford

Cambridge

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