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Audit report slams Barnet Council over MetPro scandal
BARNET Council ignored its own rules by employing unlicensed security firm MetPro, a company it paid more than £1 million without a formal contract, an in-house report has found.
The damning audit committee review written by the council’s own assistant director of finance, says the failure has exposed it to “significant” risks.
During an investigation, triggered after it was revealed residents were secretly filmed at March’s full council meeting, it was revealed there had been no checks on the now bankrupt firm’s financial status, its insurance, or criminal records of staff.
But author Maryellen Salter concludes the same problems could arise again due to the current lack of effective monitoring arrangements and an accurate and complete corporate contract register.
Council officers simply said they assumed a corporate contract was in place and relevant checks on MetPro had therefore been undertaken.
Failing its own contract procedure rules (CPR) means the council neglected aims to ensure public money was spent effectively and services were delivered efficiently.
The current investigation revealed no documents could be found relating to the financial viability of MetPro, Criminal Records Bureau checks or confirmation of the company’s Public Liability Insurance arrangements.
It also discovered inappropriate changes to bank account details had been made, resulting in payments to an unauthorised vendor - MetPro Emergency Response.
The audit reads: “There are some serious deficiencies in current procurement arrangements that require immediate attention from management.
“There has been a failure to comply with the council’s policies and procedures with regards to roles and responsibilities.”
It states the council’s corporate procurement team should maintain, renew and manage all corporate contracts and provide advice to service areas on procurement, and directors and heads of service should be responsible for all contracts tendered and let by their service areas.
But the report maintains: “Inadequate controls, monitoring and record keeping were in place by officers responsible for procuring services from MetPro at a local level.”
The audit committee, chaired by Councillor Lord Monroe Palmer, will discuss the report on Thursday June 16.