Local authority waste services contract probed by police

Potential governance and financial irregularities involving a multi-million pound waste services contract between Blaenau Gwent Council and Silent Valley Waste Services Ltd have led to the Council’s accounts being marked “unaudited” for a second year running.

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) passed “specific concerns” to the force earlier this year which remain under investigation.

In a statement to the BBC, Gwent Police said they related to “aspects of waste management services” but that no arrests had been made.

Whilst the investigation is undertaken,  the WAO is not able to certify the council’s accounts as representing a “true and fair view” in its audit opinion.

This process had already been delayed because there were £12.85m of “misstatements” in 2017-18 and £8.63m in 2016-17.

The WAO also identified four out of a sample of 55 income and expenditure payments were accounted for in the wrong financial year.

“If this sample were representative of the whole population, it could mean an estimated error of £827,000 with expenditure being overstated,” it read.

A council report presented to the Council’s Audit Committee stressed that the authority has a statutory duty to publish its accounts by September 30.

In a statement, the local authority said:

“The council’s accounts for 2017-18 are currently unable to be signed off by the Auditor General for Wales due to an ongoing Gwent Police investigation into potential governance and financial irregularities.

“It must be emphasised that this is no reflection on the council’s financial management and budget planning which is extremely robust, but relates to one specific area, our arrangements with Silent Valley Waste Services Ltd.

“The 2016-17 accounts are also not signed off for the same reason.”

Image courtesy of Pixaby.com and licensed under Creative Commons CO0.