Causeway Council must act on ‘serious issues’ highlighed in audit: Minister Hargey

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council must act to accept and implement all the recommendations from the Local Government Auditor.

In November 2020, the then Communities Minister directed the extraordinary audit to concentrate on land disposals and easements and related asset management policies and procedures. The Local Government Auditor has published her report which has identified a number of failings in the conduct and culture of the Council.

Minister Hargey said: “I welcome the publication of this report and thank the Local Government Auditor, Colette Kane and her team for their diligent work. I had concerns, that despite a series of requests to the Council for information in relation to its land transactions, it did not provide me with the necessary assurances.

“This extraordinary audit has demonstrated those concerns were very real. The detailed report has highlighted a range of serious issues that now need to be accepted and addressed by the Council’s elected representatives, Chief Executive and senior management. All eight of the recommendations should be implemented in full as a matter of urgency. My Department will support the Council as it works to address the issues raised.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council must act to accept and implement all the recommendations from the Local Government Auditor

“I am engaging with my legal team to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken should the Council fail in its duties to implement the changes required in a timely way.”

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Meanwhile a statement from Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council read: “Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council acknowledges the publication of the Extraordinary Audit report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office. Time will be required to fully assess the content and recommendations, and for Council to consider the next steps.

“Work on this report began in late 2020, and throughout that time Council cooperated fully with the Northern Ireland Audit Office. Council has already made changes to its Land and Property procedures and intends to comply with its obligations to ratepayers and stakeholders.

“The Council will meet to discuss the report, its recommendations and further action to be taken, at the next Full Council meeting on Tuesday 2nd August 2022.”