Council slams report rating its anti-corruption measures among the UK’s worst

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BCP Council was among 50 local authorities ranked in a Transparency International UK

BCP COUNCIL has criticised an “outdated” study claiming that its systems to manage the risk of corruption in its planning processes are among the worst in the country.

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In a sample of 50 local authorities, Transparency International UK ranked the council as having the least effective policies to safeguard against fraud, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But council director Bill Cotton said the organisation’s report was “inaccurate” and relied on information from before the authority was formed last year.

Transparency International looked at corruption risks related to the involvement of councillors in major planning decisions.

Within its report, Permission Accomplished, a sample of 50 local authorities from across the country were given grades on how they “sought to prevent, protect and pursue corruption” and how their policies matched standards it has set.

None was rated above a C-grade but BCP Council was the only one to be given the lowest F rating.

The report referred to the police investigation – and subsequent review – of the alleged failure of former Bournemouth council leader Cllr John Beesley to declare financial interests while working as a hospitality consultant.

It made a series of recommendations, including better minuting of meetings with developers involved in “major” schemes.

BCP Council, which was formed last year following a merger of the conurbation’s local authorities including Christchurch Borough Council, has hit back at the criticism of its processes.

Mr Cotton, its corporate director for regeneration and economy, said the council was “fully committed to openness and transparency”.

He said: “Within our ongoing transformation process, we aim to ensure that our planning system reflects this commitment and provides opportunities for local people to be involved in key decisions that will affect their communities.

“Having reviewed the recently published report, we believe their assessment is inaccurate and in no way reflects BCP Council.

“The organisation has utilised outdated information from the preceding councils within their assessment of BCP Council, which only came into existence only on 1st April 2019.

“I raised this matter with the report publishers as soon as it was brought to my attention and offered to discuss this with them; I have had no response.”

Transparency International was approached to comment on its assessment of the council.

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