Committee to probe problems in council’s Highways department

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Friday 5th August 2022 8:30 am
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County Hall. Inset is Dr Caroline Turner and Cllr Graham Breeze
County Hall. Inset is Dr Caroline Turner and Cllr Graham Breeze (PCC )

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A special meeting will take place soon to probe issues affecting Powys County Council’s Highways department.

At a meeting of the council’s Audit and Governance committee on Friday. July 29, member  were told of the findings of a number of investigations by the council’s internal auditors, SWAP.

Committee chairwoman, Lynne Hamilton said: “I found it a tough read and it’s a challenging set of audit judgements.

“I propose that the committee has a single agenda meeting to go through these matters in detail.”

Ms Hamilton believed that a working group could be set up following the meeting to “seek assurance and “scrutinise” the recovery plan from “this situation.”

Cllr Graham Breeze: “I was alarmed when I read the report and the recommendations regarding the auditing process for the ordering of goods such as tarmac in particular.

“Members would be aware we’ve had an ongoing situation which has led to disciplinary matters taking place.

“I’m alarmed this council has not taken the action to make sure there’s no repetition of what we had discovered had been happening – so I welcome the suggestion we dive deeper into this.”

Powys chief executive Dr Caroline Turner explained that the internal audit reports  were commissioned by the head of service, Matt Perry, shortly after he arrived at the authority two years ago.

Dr Turner said: “Some of these matters came to light really quite early when he took up his post.

“It has taken time to get the proper resources to support the head of service to address some of these long-standing issues, but that is now in place.”

Now that the reports had been completed Dr Turner told the committee that Mr Perry was now forming an action plan to deal with the problems.

She wanted the committee to allow Mr Perry the opportunity of presenting his action plan to them at the meeting which “clearly states” how the department is addressing all of the numerous recommendations.

Dr Turner said: “They are addressing long standing cultural issues in the service, it’s not something that could be turned around overnight.”

Cllr William Powell endorsed  the proposal for “deep dive”  session.

“There is a whole range of troubling issues that need unpacking,” said Cllr Powell.

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