We received notification last week from the external auditors of New Forest District Council, Ernst & Young, that they decided not to investigate the authority over the decision to spend £2.3 million, instead of the original £1.2 million, on replacing the damaged beach huts at Milford on Sea.
They informed us that the decision was made lawfully, although Cllr David Harrison, group leader of the Lib Dems on New Forest District Council, will be allowed to question details about the added expenditure when the accounts are available for public examination in 2017.
Incredibly, part of the reasoning for Ernst & Young not investigating the decision further is that the cost of doing so will fall on New Forest District Council!
In short, the Council spends more than £1 million than it needs to do, because the Conservative administration think that upgrading beach huts in Milford on Sea is their highest spending priority.
Although the Lib Dem opposition can challenge this, the auditor won’t look at any of the detail because it will cost the authority more to do so.
Councillor Harrison, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group says:
“I am naturally disappointed that the Tories seem to have got away with spending over £1 million of taxpayer’s money than they need to do so on a beach hut replacement scheme.
“However, the most important people here are the voters who pay the taxes. People can make their own minds up if this is a worthwhile way of spending their money.
“I can assure you that with all the austerity cut backs affecting thousands of people in the New Forest, Liberal Democrat priorities would be elsewhere”.