Attendees and webcast viewers-at-home were disappointed at the no-show by Reading Borough Council (RBC) external auditors Ernst & Young (EY) at the council’s audit and governance committee on 19 September. Chair of the committee, councillor David Stevens said that they had other engagements.
The committee had earlier discussed the latest update on the progress of the audit of RBC’s statement of accounts for the year ended 31 March 2018 as well as preparation of last year’s accounts to 31 March 2019.
RBC officers said that the public inspection period for the 2017/18 accounts would end on 20 September and that the audit had already commenced. They expected the 2018/19 accounts to be available for public inspection around the end of September. All audits are anticipated to be completed by the end of the calendar year.
This was positive news for the committee and Councillor Stevens said:
None of us understimate the turmoil you’ve been through over the last couple of years.
We are expecting now an acceleration [in accounts production] which hopefully means we are getting back to where we should be.
We must absolutely make sure that we have a solid finance team doing this, you get the resources you need and we don’t in any way revert back to the sort of problems we had, again.
Deputy chair of the committee,Councillor Richard Davies added:
On behalf of the labour side, I echo entirely what you said and this is a really welcome report.
That, together with what we heard earlier about journals [in the internal audit quarterly update], gives us confidence that, what we’ve been saying, the fact that we’ve fessed up to the issues we had, we’ve made major changes and we expect to see massive improvement. That is coming through now and I’m sure the people of Reading are going to be much happier when we tell them about it [chuckle].
The chair ended the meeting with thanks to officers, councillors, the Whitley Pump, members of the public and press.