Council leader welcomes post-16 transport audit

Post 16 transport charge protestors gather outside the Duchess's High School in Alnwick.'Picture Jane Coltman
Post 16 transport charge protestors gather outside the Duchess's High School in Alnwick.'Picture Jane Coltman

The leader of Northumberland County Council has welcomed the findings of an audit into the way the authority dealt with the post-16 transport scheme last summer.

The detailed inquiry, which will be presented to the council’s audit committee later this month, looked into the reported cost of an extraordinary council meeting, how this information was shared and the decision making relating to the review of the post-16 decision.

The report, prepared by the chief internal auditor, found that the council’s decision-making process ‘was correctly followed’ and although the decision of the policy board could have been called in for reconsideration, it wasn’t.

The auditor also found there had been widespread reporting of differing figures about the cost of the post-16 transport review and this was down to a range of approaches into what constituted ‘costs’ and differing calculations.

The report adds: “It is apparent that information of varying accuracy has however been widely circulated by other (unknown) routes. The council accordingly has no control over these sources.”

Council leader Grant Davey said: “I welcome the findings of this report which has found our decision-making process around the post-16 review was correct and sound and the costings we produced followed established management accounting practices and were based on reasonable assumptions.

“We fully understand this was an emotive subject and there were many differing views about the way forward. It was regrettable we had to make any cuts, but we must balance our budgets, protect those in greatest need and continue to focus our resources on helping our county to grow.

“While we welcome frank and honest discussion, the behaviour of a small number who sought to make it a personal issue rather than a council issue, was disappointing.

“The authority is always looking to improve the way it works, but this thorough audit has looked closely at our processes throughout the post-16 review and found they were implemented correctly.”

The full report will be presented to the council’s audit committee on Wednesday, January 28, but the report has yet to be published publicly.

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