Jim Allister has commented on the NIAO special investigation into Causeway Council and calls on the Chief Executive to resign and for PSNI to investigation.
Statement by Jim Allister: “I welcome the outcome of the NIAO special investigation into Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and its robust findings.
“It is truly shocking and well beyond the tolerance level where the Chief Executive and other senior officers can cling to office, that the report finds this Council indulged in the disposal of public assets of value without obtaining best price, within a culture of not following statutory and guidance requirements and ignoring legal advice, supplying inaccurate information to the Local Government Auditor and an unbridled desire to ‘get deals done’ with commercial interests, with no regard to due process.
“The £1 land deal to assemble a site for a hotel developer illustrates the cavalier disregard for the ratepayers’ interests and the lamentable failure of oversight by compliant councillors. I welcome the Auditor’s belief that the disregard for legal process renders the granting of this easement unlawful. The Council must now address this challenge.
“At the heart of all of this is how this Council prioritised other interests over best practice and securing for their ratepayers the best value for publicly owned assets. Whose interests was this council serving? It is hard to see that the ratepayers’ interests featured very much, if at all.
“This is a Council with a record of sweeping uncomfortable things under the carpet (eg ‘Happy Raspberry’ HR report following the judicial review which I took against the Council). Thus, it is now up to the Department to act to ensure this does not happen again and for any councillors who care about probity in public office to insist on real remedial action.
“The senior officers, particularly the Chief Executive, so seriously found wanting should be considering their positions. Indeed, in light of the indicators of ‘wilful misconduct’, I am calling for a PSNI investigation of relevant senior officers in respect of the offence of misconduct in public office.
“The public should be grateful to the NIAO for the thorough way in which it has shone a light into the dark corners of this failing Council. Now, let’s see the Department act.”