Council probe as £13m capital cash is unspent

Reporter:

Jim Green

AN INVESTIGATION is under way after millions of pounds earmarked for capital projects in Flintshire – including schools and roads – was left unspent last year.

Flintshire Council carried over more than £13million from the last financial year, an increase of almost £4million on the previous 12 months.

Council figures show that its lifelong learning and environment departments failed to spend more than £4.3million and £2.7million respectively.

Councillors attending a corporate resources scrutiny meeting were told Carl Langland, the council’s director of environment, was currently undertaking a review into why the money had not been spent.

But Cllr Richard Jones said the situation was not acceptable and demanded tighter controls be applied.

He proposed the council should no longer allow funding for capital projects to be rolled over unless work on the project had started that year.

He said if a project had not started then it should be reconsidered the following year. His recommendation was supported by the committee.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Jones said if a case had been provided to justify capital spending the council had a duty to ensure the money was spent.

“This recommendation will ensure that directorates focus more on completing projects in year and not accepting slippage. If not, they risk losing the funding,” he said.

“It’s imperative that we don’t accept slippage in the public sector, just like we wouldn’t accept it in the private sector.

“When a capital need has been identified the public has a right to be confident that we are doing all we can to improve the quality of services, while ensuring efficiencies.” A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: “The corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee resolved to recommend to executive that, in the future, the carry forward of resources for capital schemes from one financial year to another should only be allowed where a scheme had started and needed to be completed in the following financial year.

“Where resources are allocated for a capital scheme and it does not commence in the financial year in which the resources are provided, then the scheme would need to be reconsidered by members alongside other requests for the allocation of capital resources for the following year.”

See full story in the Leader

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