Concerns over BCBC Mayor’s charity fundraising

(Pic: internetbusinessdirectory.co.uk)

BCBC’s Audit Committee isn’t the most glamorous function undertaken by councillors, but it’s one of the most important as they determine whether tax payers are getting value for money and whether BCBC is spending money wisely.

Bridgend and Vale of Glamorgan currently run a joint internal audit service and one issue that’s been flagged up to me is a small snippet in the annual internal audit report for 2017-18 (pdf – p6).

BCBC’s Chief Executive, Darren Mepham, requested a review into charitable fundraising undertaken on behalf of the Mayor of Bridgend County.

The Mayor is a ceremonial role that lasts a year, in which the chosen appointee represents the council on official engagements. The Mayor also raises money for local charities via a Charity Committee run by volunteers.

By the looks of it, the review was general and wasn’t targeted at the actions of any particular Mayor past or present.

The review found a number of weaknesses to the point that auditors concluded they couldn’t offer assurances that the fundraising activities were properly controlled.

  • There’s a protocol that sets out how the Mayor should behave with respect fundraising, but it was clear “this has not been applied”.
  • The Terms of Reference is described as “poorly written, did not demonstrate proper financial controls have been adopted by the Charity Committee and was not signed by Committee members”.
  • There were no minutes of Charity Committee meetings, meaning a robust audit couldn’t take place. It also isn’t clear if financial information is provided to Charity Committee members.
  • As the Mayor is a member of the Charity Committee, there’s an assumption it’s linked to BCBC when in fact it’s completely separate. The auditor warned of a “reputational risk” to BCBC based on the audit’s findings.

There’s no suggestion of any wrong-doing with regard the fundraising itself or misuse of that money, probably in part due to the lack of documents. In the current climate where it seems as though some charity-based skulduggery is revealed every couple of weeks in Wales, naturally it raises questions.

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Owen