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2.10.07 The Audit Commission - Steve Bundred former CEO of Camden Council

The Audit Commission was set up in 1983 as an independent public body sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health.

It works with those that run local public services as well as other regulatory bodies, government and the public to ensure that the £180 billion of public money which is spent annually by around 11,000 bodies delivering local government, housing, health, fire and rescue, and criminal justice services is spent economically, efficiently and effectively.

The Department for Communities and Local Government pays a grant to the Commission towards the costs of inspection and some other activities. The CEO of the Audit Commission is Steve Bundred.

Just how 'independent' and 'impartial' is the Audit Commission in assessing how 'well' Camden council is performing when an ex CEO of Camden is running it, and not just any old ex ceo:

In 1998 the EU produced a damning report, alleging that Stephen Bundred the then CEO of Camden council, had encouraged the illegal diversion of European cash to bail out a firm run by a colleague and Councillors. Tracey Dennison another ex-Camden council employee is also on the management board of the Audit Commission

The report accuses Bundred of ignoring his duty to report evidence of potential criminal activity. Investigators concluded there was evidence of fraudulent trading, criminal conflicts of interest, local government corruption, perjury and fraud in an immigrant training scheme.

Bundred was accused of a conflict of interest when, as the Councils Director of Finance, he discovered the company running the scheme was effectively insolvent, and fraud squad investigators produced reports that showed how Bundred seconded staff and drew up a complex £400,000 loan scheme to bail the company out. This allowed it to qualify for further EU loans. The report was so damning it was put in the hands of the Government, the district auditor and the Police.

Of course Mr Bundred (above the law and unaccountable) faced no charges and left the borough in 2003 to become head of a quango called the 'Improvement and Development Agency' before moving on to become CEO of the Audit Commission.
Independent, The (London) May 13 1998 by Diana Blamires

Warring council leaders offered marriage guidance

TWO warring bosses at a flagship Labour council were offered ‘marriage guidance’ counselling as a way to help them get on.

But the offer to go to ACAS, the government’s conciliation service, was turned down by Amanda Kelly, deputy chief executive of Camden Council north London, an industrial tribunal heard yesterday. Instead, she demanded an apology from chief executive Steve Bundred before she would return to work.

Ms Kelly, 41, claiming sexual discrimination, alleges that she was bullied by Mr Bundred and threatened with the sack while male officials were treated more leniently. The hearing was told that Richard Arthur, a councillor, stepped into this dispute after a breakdown between the two highest paid members of the council. Ms Kelly had gone on sick leave with stress and back pain following a bitter exchange of letters in which she said Mr Bundred, 46, had treated her like “a naughty schoolgirl”.

She said women were surrounded by an aggressive male culture at the council and a complaint three years before that’s she was groped by an official during a weekend conference was not treated seriously.

Mr Arthur wrote to Ms Kelly, a solicitor , suggesting that a woman counsellor at ACAS might help both sides work it out. Ms Kelly, mother of two, referred to the letter as cynical and containing a number of unacceptable suggestions. She said “Suggesting a ‘marriage guidance’ process between me and Steve – it appeared to me to be totally dismissing the contents of the letters.”
She wrote back through her solicitor demanding an apology from Mr Bundred, a one-off payment of pounds 5,000 and to be made head of her own department. The council wrote back turning down her suggestions but offered to make her head of Leisure Resources.

Ms Kelly complained that she was not given enough corporate responsibility. Mr Bundred had questioned her judgement and had been asked by him why she had not sacked a female employee at a disciplinary hearing. Male colleagues were not treated in the same way and she felt bullied by her boss. She said the head of a department was allowed to leave with a six month pay-off after one of his staff was arrested for serious fraud which he had not detected.

“It seems he was given a nice easy way out of the council despite huge fraud being perpetrated,” she told the hearing. In her case, she claimed she was threatened with dismissal ‘”on the basis of matters I have still to understand”.
She said “ The men are either being paid off or have no action taken, and I have been treated completely differently.” Ms Kelly said it had also been suggested that see be “re-energised” by being seconded to another authority, perhaps a government department to draft legislation. She condemned this as being a Victorian solution. She said “A friend of mine likened it to trying to bundle an unmarried daughter off to an asylum after she became pregnant”. Camden and Mr Bundred deny any sexual discrimination. The two executives are working together pending the results of the hearing. The tribunal was adjourned until tomorrow