Labor council admits ‘crop’ problem after £2m ‘scam’ left streets half-repaired
A Labor council has admitted its ‘leadership, culture and openness’ needs to improve as an MP accuses officials of taking bribes in an alleged £2million ‘scam’ sterling.
Four Harrow Council workers were arrested last August on suspicion of fraud and abuse of position after a builder was awarded the contract.
The officials, along with a fifth man who did not work for the council and who was arrested in December, have been released on bail as part of an ongoing police investigation.
The problem first emerged when it became apparent that some streets had only been repaired on one side.
Arrests were then made after the council received secret video, filmed by a whistleblower, of an interaction between staff and a contractor which the council said “[suggests] those involved may have received inappropriate financial benefits”.
An internal memo to Harrow advisers and seen by this newspaper confirmed that the council had commissioned an internal review, which began in September 2021, into “lessons learned”.
“The review will include an assessment of procurement, financial management, governance, controls and decision-making regarding transactions that raised concerns, to include whether improvements need to be made,” the statement said. document.
“Recommendations for changes by the Management Board or the entire Board [are] include staff willingness to report inappropriate behavior, leadership, culture, management and openness.
The scope of the review also included a review of the “structure and culture” of its highways and asset management team, which has reportedly laid off a number of its employees since the council received the images of the pitcher. ‘alert.
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, said he had been inundated with complaints from residents about shoddy workmanship.
“Culture of bad governance”
Mr Blackman raised the issue in Parliament this week accusing council staff of ‘taking bribes’ after the sum of £2million ‘was given to the contractors. [despite] contractors who don’t actually do the work.
“There’s a culture of bad governance and these guys obviously thought they could get away with it,” he told the Telegraph. “They saw a lax attitude and thought they had nothing to lose.”
“The scandal is that Harrow Council has the second highest council tax in London and among the worst services in London. One of the main concerns is that the money was essentially stolen from municipal taxpayers, it appears to be for personal gain.
Mark Spencer, the leader of the House of Commons, has promised that the government will ‘take all necessary steps to ensure that a good record of transparency, probity, oversight and accountability is maintained in every council in this country’ .
A spokesperson for Harrow Council said: “Harrow Council has zero tolerance for any form of corruption and is cooperating fully with Met Police in this regard. We will make no further comment at this stage as this is a live survey.