Talkswindon

Big Local Issues & Enquiries => Talkswindon WiFi Inquiry => Topic started by: Geoff Reid on January 27, 2010, 01:06:23 PM

Title: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 27, 2010, 01:06:23 PM
 
I congratulate Cll'r Michael Dickinson on his conduct at last nights meeting of the Audit Committee.

As Rod Bluh was holding urgent talks with his disciples cabinet elsewhere in the civic, Michaels Committee were meeting to discuss the WiFi deal.

Michael hasn't been the chair of this committee long but, after announcing at full council last week that he'd refer the wifi deal to internal audit, last night he made his mark by making good on his promise.

Michael proposed that the WiFi deal, (the commercial arrangement made by Cll'rs Bluh and Edwards with Digital City (UK) Ltd), be referred to internal audit, the proposal was voted on and carried unanimously by the committee members.   

(I was going to put the committee info up, but, just for a change, the SBC websit has gone TU again)

This means that SBC's own audit team will now examine 'the wifi deal' from top to toe and I assume they will get to see every document, (that exists), and decide whether it looks as bad as it smells, or indeed, smells as bad as it looks.

Now this has been referred to internal audit I suppose Councillor Junab Ali cannot follow through on his threat to refer it to the Audit Commission proper.  Councillors Bluh and Edwards might be twitching a little less over the prospect of an internal audit but will doubtless prefer that to a through probing by the Audit Commission itself.

Hmmmm, they might wish to take a firm hold on something solid and brace themselves.....
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: Muggins on January 27, 2010, 01:31:43 PM
If the Audit Commission gets wind of it, they may well have no choice.
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: komadori on January 28, 2010, 12:19:44 AM
Michael proposed that the WiFi deal, (the commercial arrangement made by Cll'rs Bluh and Edwards with Digital City (UK) Ltd), be referred to internal audit, the proposal was voted on and carried unanimously by the committee members.   
Might there be some political motivation behind this though? Internal audit could take a couple of months to examine this. If they had concerns and referred it elsewhere (as mentioned, the Audit Commssion) then any conclusions from them would probably be delayed by the embargo on politically sensitive announcements before an election. [color=blueMr Bluh[/color] might be playing a more wily game than we think.

Now this has been referred to internal audit I suppose Councillor Junab Ali cannot follow through on his threat to refer it to the Audit Commission proper.  Councillors Bluh and Edwards might be twitching a little less over the prospect of an internal audit but will doubtless prefer that to a through probing by the Audit Commission itself.
And by the time Mr Ali gets an opportunity to make a referral to the Audit Commission its likely to be too late to have an impact on this year's round of council elections which, naturally, might be [color=blueMr Bluh[/color]'s greatest concern.

If the Audit Commission gets wind of it, they may well have no choice.
:popcorn:
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: Geoff Reid on January 28, 2010, 03:50:28 AM
 
Quote
Might there be some political motivation behind this though? Internal audit could take a couple of months to examine this. If they had concerns and referred it elsewhere (as mentioned, the Audit Commssion) then any conclusions from them would probably be delayed by the embargo on politically sensitive announcements before an election.

Well, observers have commented on the enthusiastic way Cll'r Dickinson leapt into the fray and declared "I'll refer this to the audit committee!" at the last council meeting, the one where Wods WiFi was such a hot topic everyone went home late and probably missed supper.

Perhaps he's keen to make his mark as an effective chairman, perhaps he's keen to show he's worth the extra few thousand pounds he gets for his 'special responsibilities' now that he's on the cabinet payroll.

Perhaps he's set his sights on one of the big chairs at the top table, perhaps he's been promised one if he's a good and loyal soldier. Who really knows? (if they do know and want to spill the beans, drop a note to The Talkswindon Leakline :) (leaks@talkswindon.org)

What I do know is that Rod 'n' Rikki's WiFiasco really has put Swindon on the map, for all the wrong reasons.  The WiFiasco is now in danger of becoming a side-show as attention focuses more on the way the council is being led by a secretive cabinet-within-a-cabinet.   Other cabinet members are now starting to admit that they had no idea what was going on or that other cabinet members were taking it upon themselves to take such major decisions without the whole cabinet being involved.  Democracy at work eh?

Anyway, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that political wonkery to delay/stop/hinder an internal audit was anticipated by people with a genuine interest in actually seeing that the right thing is done, and that the matter has already been already been raised with the audit commission directly.

It's unfortunate really, it would be nice to think that we really could trust all of our elected representatives to do the right thing but, for the ones that climb, slash and hack their way to the top of the pile, all we can really trust them to do is to be politicians. 

As I've said before and will doubtless say again, party politics buggers up far more than it ever solves in the Borough and when it starts looking like the wonks are bending the rules to suit themselves and their party, and they try to obstruct other interested people from seeing what is actually going on, someone is going to win the Golden Dodo. 

I don't know what 'Call me Dave' Cameron will think of this episode, but I can't see that he'll be keen to be associated with such wonkery so close to a general election.
 
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Tea Boy on January 28, 2010, 07:51:53 AM
I don't fancy the career pprospects of the poor sod in Audit that will have to present the final report.  :bottom:

I do hope they're allowed and expected to do a full and transparent job, whether the outcome is good or bad for Rod and his friends from the buisness community.

Given that there seems to be a hint of bullying of fellow cabinet /councillors, i would not put an attempt at 'leverage' past anyone who might be implicated in this sad and rather grubby affair
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Richard Shaw on January 28, 2010, 09:43:37 AM
Hey Geoff, never mind what David call me Dave Cameron thinks, he will just avoid Swindon at the General Election. 

It is more important to know what the Conservative Twins Robert and Justin think?   Getting anything out of Justin presently is rather like pulling a nail from concrete.  Meanwhile Victor and Anne are holding the high ground.

Interesting times
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 12:13:17 PM
As chair of Audit I had a request to refer the wi-fi deal to be investigated by the council's internal audit dept.

This was discussed on Tuesday & it was agreed by the committee that this be referred to IA.

There are a few points to clear up on procedure - once this is done IA can look into it.

The main time issue will be fitting this into the current workload of the department, so don't expect it back in a month or so.

an issue could be that all audit reports are p&c - can look into this later on (i.e. once i know if it is)

I will try & answer the other questions / points raised by posting
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 12:16:22 PM
If the Audit Commission gets wind of it, they may well have no choice.

They will know about it as they have a representative at most (nearly all) of the audit meetings, including the one on tuesday.
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 12:19:28 PM
Michael proposed that the WiFi deal, (the commercial arrangement made by Cll'rs Bluh and Edwards with Digital City (UK) Ltd), be referred to internal audit, the proposal was voted on and carried unanimously by the committee members.   
Might there be some political motivation behind this though? Internal audit could take a couple of months to examine this. If they had concerns and referred it elsewhere (as mentioned, the Audit Commssion) then any conclusions from them would probably be delayed by the embargo on politically sensitive announcements before an election. [color=blueMr Bluh[/color] might be playing a more wily game than we think.

Now this has been referred to internal audit I suppose Councillor Junab Ali cannot follow through on his threat to refer it to the Audit Commission proper.  Councillors Bluh and Edwards might be twitching a little less over the prospect of an internal audit but will doubtless prefer that to a through probing by the Audit Commission itself.
And by the time Mr Ali gets an opportunity to make a referral to the Audit Commission its likely to be too late to have an impact on this year's round of council elections which, naturally, might be [color=blueMr Bluh[/color]'s greatest concern.

If the Audit Commission gets wind of it, they may well have no choice.
:popcorn:

timing is based on when the IA dept can do the work, not linked into elections.  it's now in the hands of the head of internal audit as to when it happens
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 12:31:47 PM

Well, observers have commented on the enthusiastic way Cll'r Dickinson leapt into the fray and declared "I'll refer this to the audit committee!" at the last council meeting, the one where Wods WiFi was such a hot topic everyone went home late and probably missed supper.

which i did...

as for supper - if it's likely to be a late night i go to subway 1st to get something to eat
 
Quote

Perhaps he's keen to make his mark as an effective chairman, perhaps he's keen to show he's worth the extra few thousand pounds he gets for his 'special responsibilities' now that he's on the cabinet payroll.


i don't actually get the money now, it's from the 18th may - when next year's chair is elected by council

also - def not on the cabinet payroll, i do my upmost to keep the chair of audit role independent of cabinet.

Quote

Perhaps he's set his sights on one of the big chairs at the top table, perhaps he's been promised one if he's a good and loyal soldier. Who really knows? (if they do know and want to spill the beans, drop a note to The Talkswindon Leakline :) (leaks@talkswindon.org)


i will save the e-mails:

i have been promised nothing for doing this & will put on record i do not want to be on cabinet (not that anyone has suggested it)

Quote

What I do know is that Rod 'n' Rikki's WiFiasco really has put Swindon on the map, for all the wrong reasons.  The WiFiasco is now in danger of becoming a side-show as attention focuses more on the way the council is being led by a secretive cabinet-within-a-cabinet.   Other cabinet members are now starting to admit that they had no idea what was going on or that other cabinet members were taking it upon themselves to take such major decisions without the whole cabinet being involved.  Democracy at work eh?



as this may be within the ia review i would prefer not to comment - i will await their report

Quote

Anyway, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that political wonkery to delay/stop/hinder an internal audit was anticipated by people with a genuine interest in actually seeing that the right thing is done, and that the matter has already been already been raised with the audit commission directly.


as i have said elsewhere - this is up to the head of internal audit.  personally i would prefer it out before the election

Quote

It's unfortunate really, it would be nice to think that we really could trust all of our elected representatives to do the right thing but, for the ones that climb, slash and hack their way to the top of the pile, all we can really trust them to do is to be politicians. 


so do i!

Quote

As I've said before and will doubtless say again, party politics buggers up far more than it ever solves in the Borough and when it starts looking like the wonks are bending the rules to suit themselves and their party, and they try to obstruct other interested people from seeing what is actually going on, someone is going to win the Golden Dodo. 

I don't know what 'Call me Dave' Cameron will think of this episode, but I can't see that he'll be keen to be associated with such wonkery so close to a general election.

Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 12:33:52 PM
I don't fancy the career pprospects of the poor sod in Audit that will have to present the final report.  :bottom:

I do hope they're allowed and expected to do a full and transparent job, whether the outcome is good or bad for Rod and his friends from the buisness community.

Given that there seems to be a hint of bullying of fellow cabinet /councillors, i would not put an attempt at 'leverage' past anyone who might be implicated in this sad and rather grubby affair

if there are any issues like this i will take it up with gavin jones & rod!

if no one else will present the report - i will.  i trust the ia dept to do a good job & not be pressured into finding any outcome.
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Steve Wakefield on January 28, 2010, 12:59:17 PM
Hi Mike

Well said a informative post. Good to see you back on here too ;)
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: AndyH on January 28, 2010, 01:51:12 PM
I don't fancy the career pprospects of the poor sod in Audit that will have to present the final report.  :bottom:

I do hope they're allowed and expected to do a full and transparent job, whether the outcome is good or bad for Rod and his friends from the buisness community.

Given that there seems to be a hint of bullying of fellow cabinet /councillors, i would not put an attempt at 'leverage' past anyone who might be implicated in this sad and rather grubby affair

if there are any issues like this i will take it up with gavin jones & rod!

if no one else will present the report - i will.  i trust the ia dept to do a good job & not be pressured into finding any outcome.

Hi Mike

I know it’s a long time since the Audit Committee was a sub of O/S Corporate Performance but I must ask, is IA still covered by the IA Charter that was set up and agreed back in 2004?

As you’ll remember back then directors and officers didn’t always co-operate fully with IA so in writing the charter, which was fully supported by cabinet, we gave IA some teeth.

3.      Scope of Internal Audit
3.1   The scope of Internal Audit allows for unrestricted coverage of the authority’s activities or agents contracted to provide goods or services on its behalf, and unrestricted access to all employees, members, records and assets deemed necessary in the course of the audit.

3.2   All departments of Swindon Borough Council or agents contracted to provide goods or services on its behalf, are required to give complete cooperation to Internal Audit personnel, or their agents, for the expedient fulfilment of the audit process.
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on January 28, 2010, 02:34:20 PM
Hi Mike

and - will try & answer your qns
Quote
I know it’s a long time since the Audit Committee was a sub of O/S Corporate Performance but I must ask, is IA still covered by the IA Charter that was set up and agreed back in 2004?

no longer part of O&S - report straight to full council - audit's basic rules were updated in 2006, we also have our own bit of the constitution
Quote

As you’ll remember back then directors and officers didn’t always co-operate fully with IA so in writing the charter, which was fully supported by cabinet, we gave IA some teeth.

I moved a change to the constitution to require senior officers & cabinet members to appear at audit last may - although no one ever refused, but did want to give it more teeth if there was a problem.
Quote

3.      Scope of Internal Audit
3.1   The scope of Internal Audit allows for unrestricted coverage of the authority’s activities or agents contracted to provide goods or services on its behalf, and unrestricted access to all employees, members, records and assets deemed necessary in the course of the audit.

3.2   All departments of Swindon Borough Council or agents contracted to provide goods or services on its behalf, are required to give complete cooperation to Internal Audit personnel, or their agents, for the expedient fulfilment of the audit process.

if anyone does not give co-operation we can 'invite' them to audit committee.  luckily this happens very rarely & so no need to enact, but the power's there just in case....
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Steve Wakefield on January 28, 2010, 05:26:37 PM
I think it is now the case that IA will get the wheels in motion and report back to the AC/council. Speculation about  outcomes is not only premature, but not helpful to the process, what will be helpful is full cooperation. I think its a case of wait and see, but for some it is see and wait. The scope of the audit as always is the crux of the matter, not a predictor of its findings. ;)
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on April 05, 2010, 08:28:06 AM
I wanted to post an update to this; at the last audit meeting it was agreed that the report will be discussed in open session & the report will be on the web.
http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=687&MId=3861&Ver=4&J=3 (http://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=687&MId=3861&Ver=4&J=3)

The report will be only be on the remit given to Internal Audit by the committee & sent in advance to both myslef & cllr Moffat for us to comment on / amend / agree.  This was before the recent 'events' involving directorships, so will not be covering this.

I cannot comment on the report itself as I have not seen it yet - but have talked to the auditor who did the work on it.

If you do have any questions about the report for the public question time please can you e-mail them in advance otherwise the answer could well be "I will need to give you a written answer" which I don't like to do.

Now off to make 1 or 2 more comments on other threads where my name pops up
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Ringer on April 05, 2010, 08:50:59 AM
You may not like them, but written answers are far less likly to be air brushed for the minutes and are a good record to rely on. Can this session be recorded? Nothing to hide nothing to fear, as has been quoted by tories so I believe in the chamber during No2ID debates

Recording this would be a good first start of bringing SBC  into the modern ers, don't you think?
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on April 05, 2010, 08:55:44 AM
Ringer: E-mail I have just sent:

Stephen [Taylor],

I have had a request on line to record the next Audit committee - is this possible, I have no objections

http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=4889.msg36090#msg36090

Regards,

Michael Dickinson
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: michael dickinson on April 05, 2010, 08:57:11 AM
You may not like them, but written answers are far less likly to be air brushed for the minutes and are a good record to rely on.

I just prefer to give answers on the night rather than people have to wait for replies to them which can take a while
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Ringer on April 05, 2010, 08:59:54 AM
Thanks for a quick and straight to the point answer :)
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Geoff Reid on April 23, 2010, 11:39:13 AM


A quick recap to where this part of the WiFiasco actually started  Lamplighter Bulletin #4: 2nd Feb '10 - Ambulance called to Civic Offices (http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php?topic=4985.msg31366#msg31366)
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Ringer on April 16, 2011, 01:59:54 AM
I believe the Audit Committee will have  to look at this again.
Title: Re: Dickinson Does Decent Deed ?
Post by: Richard Symonds on April 16, 2011, 12:50:23 PM
But will Councillor Dickinson be allowed to chair it if indeed he is even re elected!