Councillor Richard Homes has accused the SDLP of ‘entered a meeting devoid of facts’ and that they ‘fed sensationalist media headlines’ at Tuesdays full council meeting.
Cllr Homes was speaking in reference to an ‘allegation’ that was made by the SDLP that ‘Causeway Coast and Glen Council’s Accounts had been qualified by the Northern Ireland Audit Office’.
The UUP councillor also stated that:
“Despite a strong rebuttal from the Finance Manager, this allegation was later repeated to justify the expenditure on yet more consultants, having already had PWC engaged for over 12 months.”
Making reference to the SDLPs brief biblical quote made after the meeting in social media, Cllr Holmes said:
“Whilst the SDLP may be finishing press statements partially quoting John 8:32 ‘may the truth set you free’, it would be more pertinent if they started the meetings with facts instead of falsehoods. There was alarm within the chamber when the SDLP alleged that our accounts had been qualified. This was stated despite the fact the accounts had recently gone through the Council’s Audit Committee.
“Two days later, the Chief Executive has circulated feedback from the NIAO which states: ‘You are indeed correct that the financial statements for 18/19 received an unqualified audit opinion and this was clearly set out in the Report to those Charged with Governance which I presented at the last audit committee. The financial statements including the Local Government Auditors audit certificate is on the Councils website. The opinion is also reiterated in the Annual Audit Letter which Council were recently sent. We have not issued anything recently except for the Annual Audit Letter’.
Cllr Holmes continued:
“This is a time when we are facing a tough financial climate and we need all parties to be setting aside normal political rivalry and personal vendettas to help find a solution. But a minority seem intent on stirring up trouble and making it impossible for staff and councillors to operate successfully and cohesively.
“The full quote of John 8:32 reads ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ There is little hope of being set free when you start with statements that turn out to be blatantly wrong.
“Council staff are owed an apology by the SDLP who seem to have entered a meeting devoid of facts and fed sensationalist media headlines which do nothing to help councillors strike a rate which will not be damaging to businesses and households.”