Audit report attacks Sutton Council over legal services management
Sutton Council has been slammed after an audit of the legal advice it offers to its various departments.
An internal audit of the legal services department has found the council has ignored advice, grossly under estimated legal costs, and has lost key paperwork.
A scathing report, which was released as part of Thursday's (December 13) Audit Committee meeting, has since been removed from the Council's website.
The report outlined how: "The ongoing monitoring, reporting and review of a high level performance and quality information has, to date, been inteintermittent often incomplete."
It states that the legal services department had produced a performance report last year, but: "The quality of the data that is drawn on could not be fully verified as supporting detail had not always been retained."
The council even failed to follow its own legal obligations in looking at how it manages its Legal Services.
The report states: "The system requires operational control, by twice monthly Management Team meetings. However the minute record showed that just two such meetings had been held during the past year, and that neither had considered these matters."
The débâcle around the the aborted compulsory purchase of land around the new Stanley Park High School is mentioned in the report.
It states: "The total cost in legal fees of two aborted Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) attempts in £230,000, the total legal spend in taking the CPO through completion of land acquisition was estimated at £514,500."
"The executive in 2009 had considered an estimated cost of £29,800 for employing Pinsent Masons to assist with the CPO process" when the report shows the council paid the company £207, 736.30 of tax payers money.
Tim Crowley, Chairman of Audit Committee said: "The advice provided by the council's legal team is not in any doubt, however this report does reveal that some of the processes being used are unsatisfactory. I'm pleased to see that proportionate action is being taken to remedy the management issues highlighted."