Fearless Somerset Taxpayer

February 21, 2012 5:19 PM

Fearless Somerset taxpayer Niall Connolly has conducted a campaign of criticism against Somerton Town Council—and now he’s been proved right. The Audit Commission’s recently published report accuses the council of ‘unlawful expenditure’ and ‘abuse of Public funds’.

The report investigated Somerton Town Council's sale of public land at Etsome Terrace, its purchase of property at Cary Court and subsequent conversion to a community hall in 2009. The external auditors concluded that the council ‘made decisions that were unlawful and may have resulted in unlawful expenditure’ and most damning of all for local taxpayers, ‘failed to adequately budget for, or to monitor, expenditure on the conversion of 8 Cary Court to a community hall.’

'In my opinion the Council sold Etsome Terrace without taking the proper steps to ensure that the sale price was the best available,’ said the report’s author. ‘It purchased 8 Cary Court and converted it to a community hall without first determining that it would meet the needs of the community. The Council failed to properly budget and monitor the cost of converting the building to a community hall. When the eventual cost was more than twice that originally expected, the Council was unable to demonstrate why the overspend had been necessary.’

These findings will be discussed at a public meeting arranged by Somerton Town Council on 29 February 2012.

'The funds that may have been spent “unlawfully” could total up to just less than £1,100,000,' says Somerton resident Niall Connolly. ‘The Town Council, having sold public land to fund the purchase of the industrial unit, failed to pay off the Public Works Loan Board loan, which will be a burden on the local taxpayers for another 17 years.'

'When their actions are brought to the attention of the authorities, as is the case with Somerton, there are no consequences for those who made the decisions. However, there are significant consequences for local taxpayers who are forced to fund the consequences of those actions, diverting much needed funds from local need to interest and capital repayment.'

For more on Niall’s analysis of his council’s failures, see his blog. At the time, his criticism of the council in 2009 resulted in a mass resignation of 11 councillors.  It was a brave stance. But he was right to be critical, as the auditor’s report now reveals. Niall should be praised for his services to local taxpayers - unlike several of their councillors...Fearless Somerset taxpayer Niall Connolly has conducted a campaign of criticism against Somerton Town Council—and now he’s been proved right. The Audit Commission’s recently published report accuses the council of ‘unlawful expenditure’ and ‘abuse of Public funds’.

The report investigated Somerton Town Council's sale of public land at Etsome Terrace, its purchase of property at Cary Court and subsequent conversion to a community hall in 2009. The external auditors concluded that the council ‘made decisions that were unlawful and may have resulted in unlawful expenditure’ and most damning of all for local taxpayers, ‘failed to adequately budget for, or to monitor, expenditure on the conversion of 8 Cary Court to a community hall.’

'In my opinion the Council sold Etsome Terrace without taking the proper steps to ensure that the sale price was the best available,’ said the report’s author. ‘It purchased 8 Cary Court and converted it to a community hall without first determining that it would meet the needs of the community. The Council failed to properly budget and monitor the cost of converting the building to a community hall. When the eventual cost was more than twice that originally expected, the Council was unable to demonstrate why the overspend had been necessary.’

These findings will be discussed at a public meeting arranged by Somerton Town Council on 29 February 2012.

'The funds that may have been spent “unlawfully” could total up to just less than £1,100,000,' says Somerton resident Niall Connolly. ‘The Town Council, having sold public land to fund the purchase of the industrial unit, failed to pay off the Public Works Loan Board loan, which will be a burden on the local taxpayers for another 17 years.'

'When their actions are brought to the attention of the authorities, as is the case with Somerton, there are no consequences for those who made the decisions. However, there are significant consequences for local taxpayers who are forced to fund the consequences of those actions, diverting much needed funds from local need to interest and capital repayment.'

For more on Niall’s analysis of his council’s failures, see his blog. At the time, his criticism of the council in 2009 resulted in a mass resignation of 11 councillors.  It was a brave stance. But he was right to be critical, as the auditor’s report now reveals. Niall should be praised for his services to local taxpayers - unlike several of their councillors...

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