To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
The following questions were asked by members of the public:
Mr Mark Wooding asked:
1. Could it be clarified if there is a Cabinet at the moment? If there isn’t a Cabinet, what are the implications for the recent decision on 3 rivers?
The Chief Executive stated that a written response would be provided.
Mr Paul Elstone asked:
I understand that a senior and very well-informed member of this Council has requested the Devon Audit Partnership have its fraud team look into the 3 Rivers business dealings with the Council.
Public money should not be loaned to any Company under fraud investigation.
Given that all loans to 3 Rivers are public money, will this Scrutiny Committee ensure that 3 the Rivers Business Plan approvals are rescinded. Also place on hold all future 3 Rivers expenditures, other than for safety or environmental reasons. This until the results of any fraud investigation are published?
At the Cabinet meeting of the 31st January 2023 I asked about the reported problems with 3 Rivers Accounts and the lack of an Auditors Report.
In a written response I was told that; “In assessing the company’s business plan(s), the Cabinet has considered comments/feedback from the Audit Committee, Scrutiny and Full Council and its professional officers”.
It is hard to believe that the Cabinet did properly consider the advice being given, since the feedback from Council and Committees was “We do not support these Business Plans”.
Will Scrutiny Committee please take the advice of Full Council and Audit Committee and send this 27/1/2023 Business Plan straight back to Cabinet with a recommendation that MDDC does not proceed. This until the 3 Rivers Fully Audited Accounts have been published and a further risk assessment has been undertaken by Audit Committee?
At the same Cabinet meeting I asked;
Why was the potential loss of 1.6 million pounds on St Georges Court, known to the Cabinet, kept secret from the MDDC Electorate?
The written answer given: This information is restricted due to commercially sensitive nature.
This is why the Public have a complete lack of trust in MDDC Executive Officers and Cabinet Members on anything to do with 3 Rivers.
Especially so as it seems a senior and very well-informed Member of this Council has said that the Public “do not know the Machiavellian things that have gone on from a finance point of view”.
Machiavellian characteristics are marked by cunning, duplicity or bad faith.
An example is that 3 Rivers paid four hundred and twenty thousand pounds (£420,000) for low grade land at Bampton but gave the MDDC Planning Committee a viability statement stating the professional land valuation was only two hundred and thirteen thousand pounds (£213,000).
Will this Scrutiny Committee fulfil their obligation to the people of Mid Devon and remedy this serious situation. This by taking whatever steps are necessary to stop this Business from going any further into decline?
The Monitoring Officer stated that a written response would be provided.
Mr Steve Keable asked:
a) Did the Cabinet work properly or constitutionally on the 31 January 2023?
b) If so, why?
c) If not, why not?
d) Context of my question is the outcome of Council meeting on 18th January where Members were concerned about putting more good money into a questionable enterprise when also considering the cost of living demands of axing services to maintain a balanced budget.
The Monitoring Officer stated that the answers to these questions would be answered within the debate to follow.