SIXFIELDS AUDIT REPORT AT-A-GLANCE: Fifteen key findings into Northampton Borough Council's handling of failed loan deal
The key points from the damning 32-page report by auditors into the borough council's handling of the loan to Cobblers are:
* A full business case was not presented to Cabinet members before they were asked to agree the loan
* Credit checks ahead of the loan identified NTFC as "high risk" due to its financial performance but the report says auditors were "unclear how the council responded to negative indicators"
* Cabinet delegated actions and responsibility for the "facility agreements" of the loan to the chief executive [David Kennedy], in consultation with the Section 151 officer and the then leader of the council, Councillor David Mackintosh
* Cabinet agreed loan of up to £12 million but subsequent facility agreement entered into a total loan of £13.5 million. Legal advice to council stated this was in line with delegated responsibility
* Three opposition members challenged loan deal but it is not clear how their concerns were investigated or resolved
* Opposition members failed to "call-in" the decision and did not refer it to Overview and Scrutiny
* Emails show management and politicians were putting officers under pressure to "conclude arrangements as soon as possible". This "significantly reduced" the council's ability to challenge or fully evaluate professional advice it had received ahead of agreeing the deal"
* Professional advice was sought but was "obtained in a time-pressured manner and it is to determine if all queries were adequately resolved prior to entering into any loan agreement"
* Detailed business cases, due diligence checks and professional legal advice were not obtained until after Cabinet approval was given
* Auditors have seen no evidence to show formal governance arrangements to oversee the loan were in place
* Auditors have been unable to identify any formal risk assessment documentation in relation to the loan
* Compliance with loan repayment schedules were monitored and followed up but there was no formal monitoring of the physical progress of the construction works which would have provided substantial assurance the loan was being used appropriately
* Loan money was given in accordance with the agreement in place but the report says too much money was given to Northampton Town too soon and in advance of need
* The redevelopment plan was altered in August 2014 to no longer include a conference and banqueting facility and a reduced number of additional seats but auditors could find no evidence that construction changes were reflected in the structure of the loan, the report stated
* Auditors said the fact it had taken the council "a number of months to identify supporting evidence" indicates a lack of organisation and systematic processes in place
The full report is available on Northampton Borough Council's website.