Castlereagh Borough Council hurriedly accept the Deloitte report’s recommendations (updated)

Three months after the draft Deloitte report was presented to Castlereagh Borough Council on 26 May, the final version was discussed during a private session of the council last night. This morning’s radio bulletins seemed to have gone all West Country with frequent mentions of “luvver” as the reports’ conclusions and political reaction was discussed.

Castlereagh Council curtly answered an FOI in May asking for a copy of the report with wording that was believable (though fell far short of the ICO’s advice on how to refuse requests).

As indicated in the press release the council “will require time to comprehensively review the report and enable councillors and officers to respond to the content”. “A further report will then be presented to the Council”.

Notice the clear explanation that a Section 22 exemption was being relied on, details of the internal appeals process and the right to complain to the ICO!

While some members of the media had copies and were quoting from it this morning, the report – at time of posting – still hasn’t been made public. Updatenow available on the FOI page of their website.

What isn’t in doubt are the findings that show (in UTV’s words):

The report by Consultants Deloitte said there was no evidence of impropriety on behalf of council officers directly involved in the process of awarding the tender of a cafe on the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast to Kirk McCambley.

The report also shows that the council did not incur any financial loss as a result of the award of the lease.

News reports suggest that while the council meeting minutes hadn’t noted Iris Robinson leaving, the building safety log showed that she had left the council offices before the Lock Keeper’s Inn was discussed.

Jimmy Spratt – DUP councillor and MLA – spoke after the meeting:

There are some however who attempted to advance their own political agenda behind a smokescreen of mud-slinging and rumour-mongering associated with this issue. Those people now have absolutely no basis for their vindictive campaign and their motives are now exposed. The report exonerates everyone of wrongdoing.

The Deloitte report apparently also calls for better training for councillors in the art of declaring conflicts of interest and a tightening of local government rules.

The private session to discuss the Deloitte report was reported to have been heated and not all councillors were impressed with the undue haste in accepting the report and its recommendations.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said he felt the council were given insufficient time to debate the 35-page report. He said his party felt “railroaded” into making a decision and they abstained in the vote.

“The report was tabled and we were given a minute to read it,” he said. “We were then told that there would be a vote in terms of accepting the report and its recommendation. We hadn’t had a chance to read a 35-page report and we were expected to support recommendations without having read them.”

“I’m sure most of them are absolutely fine, and indeed we would like to see improved procedures. We want to see more openness and transparency in the council. But I think it would be at least sensible for councillors to have been given time to read the recommendations and the report.”

Perhaps once the councillor training is put in place, Castlereagh will tighten up its FOI procedures and also keep its promise to publish its minutes online (without having to be chased). And perhaps the ghost of Kirk McCambley will finally leave the local political scene and takes his place in the political archive of the Linen Hall Library.

Update – Some extracts from the Deloitte report, Section 4 Conclusions.

Our review identified no evidence of the Council incurring any financial loss as a result of the award of the lease at Lock Keeper’s Inn.

There was no evidence from our review to suggest any impropriety on behalf of Council Officers or Members directly involved in the Assessment Panel that was responsible for administering the process for the award of the lease at the Lock Keeper’s Inn and making recommendations to Council in this regard. Our investigation did however identify some procedural issues regarding the award process whereby late and non compliant expressions of interests were accepted and these applicants were then invited to progress to the next stage of the award process. While we have made a number of recommendations within the report with regard to this issue, it is important to appreciate that this decision to breach the pre-agreed award procedure in place was taken by the Economic Development Sub Committee in the interest of competition and that the only party that could have been potentially disadvantaged by this breach of procedure was Kirk McCambley.

We found no evidence within the scope of our review and the work performed in this regard to suggest that officers or elected representatives did not comply with the requirements of relevant local government legislation and guidance in the awarding of the lease to the Lock Keeper’s Inn. Our review found that the then Alderman Iris Robinson did not sit on the Assessment Panel for the lease award or the Council’s Economic Development Committee and therefore had no direct involvement in the main processes for awarding the lease of Lock Keeper’s Inn.

Commissioning Deloitte to produce a report seems quite onerous. There’s a cracking disclaimer on the front of the report – common to other Deloitte reports – that states that

[the report] was not intended to be made available or communicated to any other part other than Castlereagh Borough Council. It was not created in contemplation of the needs of someone requesting it under the Freedom of Information Act and no other party is entitled to rely on our report for any purpose whatsoever …

Section 1.5 of the report also instructs Castlereagh Borough Council that:

You should consult with us promptly should you receive any requests which you consider requires disclosure of the contents of this report, either in whole or in part, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

, , , ,

  • So did Deloitte’s do a forensic test on the building safety log to check that it hadn’t been altered after the event?

  • iluvni

    “The report exonerates everyone of wrongdoing.”

    There’s a shock.

  • Drumlins Rock

    This report may have “answered” one of the side issues arising from Irisgate, however the central issue remains, why did two important property developers give a prominant politician 50 grand? One of whom also sold her husband a valuable strip of land for a fiver? Lots of smoke and mirrors here me thinks.

  • Bungditin

    Indeed DR
    Anyone know if Peter and Iris where at the meeting which passed the housing development that needed the £5 strip?

  • andnowwhat

    Haven’t been this shocked since The Sun outed Boy George

  • Jack2

    Drumlins makes a key point.

    Also would HMRC not be interested in large sums of cash being passed around? Especially when it appears it may have been “cleaned” through a charity.

    The fact remains that politicians of all sides closed ranks and did nothing to rock the boat unduly. The whole thing is a gravy train and its our cash they are raking in.

  • Framer

    Be careful when you call for enquiries on trivial matters where there is little or no evidence of wrongdoing.

    The cost is enormous and that is before you add the PSNI costs which are astronomic. The police love to over-staff and over-examine paper trails rather than go out on the streets on cold evenings.

  • JH

    Think Neil’s just captured the mood nicely there

  • oracle

    Andnowwhat…….. 

    Framer,
    It wasn’t a trivial matter the wife of the most powerful man in Northern Ireland who controlled the party who controlled the entire business infrastructure and financial future of the state was involved in grubby money deals.
    She was an elected member to the body that was going to award her toy-boy lover son of her former lover a lucrative location for a business project.
    This woman of poor judgment and even poorer morals failed to notify the voting body of her interest in the project, not sexually but financially.

    Not trivial at all, never was never will be.

  • Framer

    Well Deloitte say she didn’t breach any rules and it was obvious from the beginning that would be the result – before Deloitte put in their tender. There was no prima facie evidence of wrongdoing.

  • oracle

    Framer

    “There was no prima facie evidence of wrongdoing.”

    Oh please…..

    I’m willing to bet every single penny in my pocket (not enough to be a friend of Iris i may add) that your the type of guy who believed in weapons of mass destruction and moon landings in 1969

  • South Belfast Hack

    Oracle most reasonable people believe that the USA put a man on the moon in 1969

  • Skint Taxpayer

    I’ve been in and out of that building many times and never had to sign a safety register …even within the last week. How many signed it at last nights Council? I mean the public and press were asked to leave early while the high and mighty discussed the sensitivities of the report. Were they signed out… if not there’s a safety breech. Quick lets have another internal report????

  • Skint Taxpayer

    PS Wonder how much the report cost?

  • sonofstrongbow

    Seems Deloitte joins the list of suspects for the conspiracy junkies. Obviously nobbled eh?

    This was never about Iris Robinson and her personal shenanigans they simply provided an opportunity for a political attack on Peter Robinson.

    Peter Robinson is no fluffy bunny and he seems to grate on a lot of people. Given his politics he was a juicy target for BBC NI, an organisation with a liberal ‘green’ agenda.

    Expect mucho whinging from Alliance as they begin to contemplate Ms Long decamping from Westminster; and no the PUP vote won’t save her.

  • oracle

    South Belfast hack most reasonable people…..

    Sorry is that a cryptic line for me to substitute the correct wording for reasonable

    Gullible
    Stupid
    Foolish
    Thick
    Silly
    Idiotic
    Moronic
    Imbecilic
    Naïve
    Unworldly
    Unsophisticated
    Unquestioning

    If it is the nicest term would be unsophisticated whilst the most accurate would be unquestioning.

  • oracle

    Son of strongbow,

    well actually Deloitte should never have been allowed to carry out the report it should have been an agency with no ties to Castlereagh council Okay… there’s an extra push for that rocking horse your riding

  • sherdy

    What use is a report when the authors advise that we should not rely on it for any purpose! Was anyone suffering from a dose of ‘Nelson’s eye’?

  • As the lyric doesn’t quite have it:
    The pong distended
    And the malady lingered on.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Better to be on a rocking one as opposed to the hobby variety.

  • Skint Taxpayer

    son of strongbow being apolitical but I see the main whinging is from the DUP. I mean they can’t even allow the alliance to have an opinion on the report …..ref last night’s eulogy where abstainers were accused of a vindictive agenda. Who has the Agenda really?

    Rather I see arrogance at Castlereagh nobbling DUP aspirations there as it straddles area into South Belfast. Will they not learn from what the wise constituents of the East did?

  • Reader

    Actually, any councillor who voted on accepting the report without reading it is unfit for the job. Were some councillors given advance sight of the report? That would also be seriously dodgy.

  • 2 words come to mind,

    kevlar & Teflon

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘I’m willing to bet every single penny in my pocket (not enough to be a friend of Iris i may add) that your the type of guy who believed in weapons of mass destruction and moon landings in 1969’

    The Marsh Arabs and the Northern Kurds certainly believed in WMD’s !!
    As for the moon landing in 1969,I guess the Yanks just spent Billions,on an elaborate haox ?
    Oh ayee,and this isn’t real anyway,it’s all a Matrix. 😉

  • granni trixie

    sonof strongbow: how is it ‘wingeing’ of Alliance to complain that they were expected to rubber stamp recommendations which they had not time to read and digest? Rather, voters ought to be asking questions about the practices of the Councillors who did so.

  • Jack2

    “and no other party is entitled to rely on our report for any purpose whatsoever …”

    The report clears nothing.

    Iris Robinson is still guilty of the following:
    Adultery
    Bearing False Witness
    Hypocrisy
    Hate Speech

    These are in question:
    Money Laundering
    Tax Evasion
    Bribery

  • Skint Taxpayer

    Cynic2

    I can tell you what’s not selling …this new DUP whitewash cos its not very convincing at the cover up.

  • oracle

    Skint,

    You’re 100% right it’s a typical NI scam which they’ll get away with… just like NIW just like SF and the abuse cover up just like the Consumer council working with a hymn sheet for NIW and just like Alliance and the positional theft of the justice ministry.

    Why because we have no independent media in NI they’re all too busy getting on to quangos or chasing the OBE to rock the boat so story’s are buried or spiked.
    Far too cosy a relationship with the gutless media in NI and politicians, if a rare journalist grows a pair of balls and shows tenacity and stick-ability their editor will bust their balls if the story doesn’t carry the silver bullet with the smoking gun still in the hand of the perpetrator standing over the dead body while caught on CCTV with 200 witnesses of impeccable reputation who have all either served as missionaries in Africa or are reincarnations of the mountain pope.

    Cynic…. 🙂

  • jthree

    Which local hacks are on Quangos?

    Also your jeremiad seems a trifle flawed in that the Iris story and to some extent the less punter-friendly NIW story were the work of local hacks. That the establishment closed ranks afterwards isn’t really the media’s fault. Also you seem to have an incomplete knowledge of how defamation law works in practise.

  • It is as well to be mindful of the following …. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” …Carl Sagan, US astronomer & popularizer of astronomy (1934 – 1996)

    And There was no evidence from our review to suggest any impropriety on behalf of Council Officers or Members directly involved in the Assessment Panel that was responsible for administering the process for the award of the lease at the Lock Keeper’s Inn and making recommendations to Council in this regard. sort of says, without actually saying it, that there is likely impropriety indirectly on behalf of Council Officers or Members directly involved in the Assessment Panel that was responsible for administering the process for the award of the lease at the Lock Keeper’s Inn and making recommendations to Council in this regard.

    “Commissioning Deloitte to produce a report seems quite onerous. There’s a cracking disclaimer on the front of the report – common to other Deloitte reports – that states that

    [the report] was not intended to be made available or communicated to any other part other than Castlereagh Borough Council. It was not created in contemplation of the needs of someone requesting it under the Freedom of Information Act and no other party is entitled to rely on our report for any purpose whatsoever …

    Section 1.5 of the report also instructs Castlereagh Borough Council that:

    You should consult with us promptly should you receive any requests which you consider requires disclosure of the contents of this report, either in whole or in part, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

    That is just so typical of a right dodgy dossier presenting findings which just aren’t kosher, and if paid for with public funds, a bloody impertinent cheek of an inclusion. Such pretentious arrogance is just so pathetic.

    Just out of curiosity, what was the final bill for the report and who paid for it and with what funds?