Audit report slams Barnet Council over MetPro scandal

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

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.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:06pm Tue 7 Jun 11

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

This audit report is a shocking indictment of the incompetence of our Tory council: the financial organisation is not fit for purpose, and the idea that this administration is going to throw all our frontline services into the hands of private contractors is terrifying.
This audit report is a shocking indictment of the incompetence of our Tory council: the financial organisation is not fit for purpose, and the idea that this administration is going to throw all our frontline services into the hands of private contractors is terrifying. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 0

8:08pm Tue 7 Jun 11

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

... and if you want to know more, read my blog, or any of the Barnet blogs where you will find a detailed expose of the circumstances behind this appalling affair ...
... and if you want to know more, read my blog, or any of the Barnet blogs where you will find a detailed expose of the circumstances behind this appalling affair ... Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 0

12:40am Wed 8 Jun 11

Rog T says...

Not half as bad as it may have looked if the original "final report" had been issued
Not half as bad as it may have looked if the original "final report" had been issued Rog T
  • Score: 0

10:01am Fri 10 Jun 11

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

Apart from the pathetic comment from Cllr Thomas, the Tory councillors in Barnet have chosen to maintain a resounding silence on this issue - why is this, do you think, fellow residents and taxpayers? They are hoping this scandal can be contained: it can't. On the 16th June at Hendon Town Hall the audit committee meets to discuss the report: come and watch, see you elected representatives in action, Meeting starts 6.30pm.
Apart from the pathetic comment from Cllr Thomas, the Tory councillors in Barnet have chosen to maintain a resounding silence on this issue - why is this, do you think, fellow residents and taxpayers? They are hoping this scandal can be contained: it can't. On the 16th June at Hendon Town Hall the audit committee meets to discuss the report: come and watch, see you elected representatives in action, Meeting starts 6.30pm. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 0
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree