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Tories slam Ward after criticism of city finances; COUNCIL 'INADEQUACIES' REVEALED.

Byline: CARL JACKSON Local Democracy Reporter carl.jackson@reachplc.com

BIRMINGHAM City Council has been accused of "unprecedented levels of financial incompetence" following a third 'rare' auditor warning in four years.

The opposition Conservative group has issued scathing criticism of the Labour-run authority following the latest Section 24 notice, and questioned whether Coun Ian Ward is the 'right man' to lead the council.

The notice was confirmed by finance and governance director Clive Heaphy at the Resources Committee. The warning, made under the Local Audit and Accountability Act, makes two statutory recommendations to the council, one of which is understood to be around the management of the waste service following the latest industrial dispute. It will be discussed in more detail at today's Audit Committee while a wider debate will take place at full council on April 2. Coun Robert Alden ( Erdington), leader of the Conservative group, said: "These reports are supposed to be very rare, only a handful of councils have ever received one and yet under the financial leadership of Coun Ian Ward, Birmingham has now had three.

Tory Robert "This isn't just some dull piece of accountancy practice from obscure legislation, it is a serious warning about inadequacies in the way the council is looking after the billions of pounds of money entrusted to it by taxpayers."

He pointed out that the notice came at a time when residents' council tax bills were increasing, adding: "They have every right to ask how a man who has presided over what now amounts to unprecedented levels of financial incompetence can feel he is the right man to continue to lead decisions on how their hard earned money is spent."

Shadow finance and resources chief Coun Meirion Jenkins (Cons, Sutton Mere Green) said the council "lurches from crisis to crisis" under Labour.

The council is drawing up a formal response to the report and it is understood bosses may challenge certain aspects of it.

In a statement it said: "The council is continuing to work hard to deliver its priorities for the citizens of Birmingham and to ensure that the city council is put on a robust financial footing.

leader Alden "The savings plan for 2019/20 and beyond must be seen in the context of the city council having had its funding reduced by PS690 million since 2010 but we are confident that we can deliver these savings.

"While we know there is still some way to go, the report acknowledges that progress has been made in the last 12 months in our financial management and our commitment to being transparent about how we spend our Tory leader Robert Alden Council leader Ian Ward

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 26, 2019
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