The Tories controlling St Albans District Council have come under fire for a series of recent failures and poor financial management, including a thumping £108,000 loss forecast for the city’s new museum and gallery.
The failings have been highlighted by St Albans Liberal Democrats following a disastrous report on the levels of financial risk the council has exposed itself to and the persistent ducking of questions about how it went about organising the Meraki festival.
Back in January the audit committee heard how the council has no risk management policy in place and that its procedures do not meet best practice.
The Lib Dem opposition then tabled a motion at February’s full council meeting designed to address the issues raised by the audit report, but this was voted down irresponsibly by the Conservatives.
Report mistakenly published on website
And this after a confidential report, mistakenly published on the council’s website earlier in the month, revealed that the new St Albans Museum + Gallery is expected to go £108,000 into the red in its first year.
The report showed that despite projecting that this exciting new project would make money, the Tory administration have yet again failed to properly consider risk and budgets.
Local people are left questioning the ability of the Conservatives to budget properly, especially after the Tories had claimed the new museum was expected to make money, not lose it.
Chris White, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “It’s astonishing that the Conservatives have only taken action on financial risk when pushed by us.
City needs a council trusted to spend wisely
“This is the latest in a litany of failures that the current administration has presided over, and it’s the residents of our district that suffer as a result. St Albans deserves a better and more responsible council than this.
“We need a council we can trust to spend wisely and not make stupid mistakes, and to be honest with residents. The Liberal Democrats are ready to step up and succeed where the Tories have failed.”
Jacqui Taylor, Lib Dem councillor for St Peters ward, said: “The news about the museum was the latest in a line of gaffes from the Conservative council, who have risked the reputation of our great city by failing to properly manage initiatives like Meraki Festival and Pub in the Park.
“When we ask questions of the administration, they just try and duck taking responsibility. We deserve to know the truth.”