Council Sorry Over £10m Cobblers Fiasco

Northampton Borough Council has "unreservedly" apologised for the failings which have been identified in an independent report into it's £10m loan to the town's football club.

The money's yet to be fully located and returned to the public purse.

In January 2016, the Audit Committee asked independent auditors PwC, to review the policies and procedures followed by the Borough Council in making and managing the loan to Northampton Town FC.

The auditors were asked to consider any lessons learned, and to make recommendations that should be incorporated into the Borough Council’s procedures in the future.

The PwC report identifies a number of areas where the Council’s management of the loan was inadequate, and where processes must be improved.

An action plan has already been put in place to deal with the issues already identified by the Borough Council. Further issues raised by PwC will now be added to the action plan.

A new corporate governance framework will be put in place to guide the management of all major projects.

The Borough Council has put the issuing of any new loans on hold pending the implementation of due diligence guidelines that have been reviewed by the council’s banker, Barclays.

The new governance and risk management framework will be the responsibility of named officers, who will ensure it is complied with across the organisation.

The Audit Committee has been asked to monitor rigorously the implementation of and compliance with the action plan through regular reports at every one of its meetings.

Wholly Unacceptable

Cllr Jonathan Nunn, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said:

“First and foremost, I apologise for the past failings highlighted in our auditor’s report. The Council’s management of this project fell seriously short of the standards people have a right to expect from their council, and that is wholly unacceptable.

When the loan to the football club went so badly wrong, we asked our auditors to look at what happened and they have given us clear advice on the improvements that must be made. I accept that the Council failed to manage this loan in a proper way and clear action must be taken to show that lessons have been learned.

The Council already has an action plan in place to address these failings and I have asked the Chief Executive to demonstrate that management controls have been strengthened. The Council must reduce the chances of something going so badly wrong again.”

External auditors KPMG are still carrying out an independent review into the loan and a separate investigation into matters related to the previous management of the football club is also being carried out by Northamptonshire Police.

The PwC report will be considered by the Audit Committee at a special meeting to take place at the Guildhall at 6pm on Monday 5 December.

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