Leader hits back over claims Cambridgeshire County Council’s budget is ‘fraudulent’

Cllr Steve Count
Cllr Steve Count
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A senior councillor has claimed Cambridgeshire County Council’s budget is “fraudulent”, with major decisions being taken on “incorrect” figures.

Cllr Mike Shellens, chairman of the council’s audit and accounts committee, made the extraordinary claim during a meeting of the full council yesterday (December 11).

However, council leader Cllr Steve Count said there has not been any fraudulent activity with the budget.

Cllr Shellens told the council he believed the figures used to decide the budget for children’s social services and adult social care are incorrect. He said the council keeps ending up in “a mess”, and overspending every year because the numbers are wrong.

Cllr Shellens said: “Putting incorrect information out is, in my view, fraudulent.”

Cllr Shellens was asked by Cllr Ian Bates and Cllr Count to withdraw the claim, noting the suggestion was “extremely serious”. Cllr Shellens, however, declined, saying he had heard the requests, but stood by what he had said.

Cllr Count said: “I have no option but to send this to the standards board. I am shocked and saddened by this.”

Cllr Count said due process now had to be followed in regards to proceeding with the accusations. He denied any fraudulent activity with the budget and said it was not always possible to predict how budgets would respond in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

Cllr Count said: “I think what [Cllr Shellens] was trying to say is we should have somehow had a crystal ball to predict the future.”

According to Cllr Count, overspends in the budget could be attributed to a “massive increase in numbers” of people in need of care in the county.

The county council’s guidelines say councillors could complain about Cllr Shellens’ remarks formally.

If they did so, the monitoring officer will review it and, in consultation with the independent person, undertake an initial assessment to determine whether the complaint is admissible.

If the complaint is admissible, the monitoring officer must decide whether it warrants investigation, whether it may be suitable for alternative resolution without investigation, or whether it does not warrant further action.

Josh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service