First investigation into Northampton Borough Council’s Sixfields loan will not look at councillors’ conduct

Details on Price Waterhouse Cooper's audit of Northampton Borough Council in regards to the �10.25million loan it made to Northampton Town, have emerged in reports released by the council.
Details on Price Waterhouse Cooper's audit of Northampton Borough Council in regards to the �10.25million loan it made to Northampton Town, have emerged in reports released by the council.
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An internal investigation into Northampton Borough Council’s decision to grant Cobblers £10.25 million for a stadium rebuild will not consider the “conduct” of council members.

Tonight, councillor’s on the authority’s audit committee will hear Price Waterhouse Cooper’s (PWC) plans to investigate the internal workings of the borough council throughout 2013 and 2014, in relation to the loan granted to Northampton Town for a new East Stand.

Papers released before the meeting tonight shed more light on how PWC will carry out its audit.

A report, written by the internal audit senior manager Chris Dickens, states a team of three people from the auditing company will, over the next few weeks, go through minutes of council meetings and other relevant documents to “understand the rationale behind the agreement” and whether the council had an effective business case in place before deciding to grant the League Two side up to £12 million (in the end, only £10.25 million was actually transferred).

The firm will also look into the wording of the loan agreement itself and all other documents “produced to support the decision to make financing available to the football club.”

Then the PWC team will work to ”identify any gaps and weaknesses in the processes,” of the council and “consider ‘lessons learnt’ to improve processes for future agreements of a similar nature.”

But the papers explicitly state the review “will not consider the conduct of council members.”

It is understood a separate external review by KPMG could touch upon those matters, however, though the exact scope of that review is yet to be defined.

Leader of the opposition Labour group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said, “The whole loan saga to NTFC was appalling and questions still need to be answered by people who were involved at the time.

“I still have my concerns about the final deal but we can look into that at a future date.

“All political groups in July 2013 supported giving NTFC the loan and we were all wrong to do so. It is Labour who have been calling for inquiries.”

A criminal investigation into the loan given to Northampton Town in 2013 is currently ongoing and a separate paper going before tonight’s audit committee by chief finance officer Glenn Hammons, gives a brief overview of the work being done by police.

It reads: “Unlike the reviews being undertaken by the audit committee and external auditor, the police investigations are much wider ranging than the processes, procedures and governance within the council.

“However it is expected the audit committee and external auditor review will work in conjunction with the police to ensure they do not compromise their investigations.”

”Field work” for the internal audit is set to begin this week, on Wednesday.