Colchester Conservatives fury about missing Council accounts

At the Council Meeting on 22nd February 2023, Colchester’s ruling Labour /  Liberal Democrat Coalition forced through a budget for 2023-4 which doubles the Council's debt, and has failed to release even draft accounts up to March 2022 so that Councillors can see that the budget is on a sound footing.

Cllr Darius Laws, Conservative opposition leader, said “We already have more debt than our neighbours and the budget is doubling it.  A Conservative Administration would understand the implications and get capital spending under control.”

Cllr William Sunnucks, Conservative spokesman on Resources said “All councillors need to see the accounts to fulfil their responsibilities. We are still working from a nearly two year old balance sheet and that is dangerous. The coalition Administration blames the auditors but that is a red herring.  We are not asking for audited accounts - pre-audited ones will do.  

Except for Colchester, every other Council in Essex has already released pre-audited 2022 accounts (Uttlesford is excluded because it is in special measures).  The Council's balance sheet is as important to understand as the operating budget.  There are examples of other local authorities who have run into severe trouble in this area. We have no reason to believe there is anything wrong at City of Colchester Council, but without the accounts we can’t be sure".

Conservatives believe in transparent treasury management, with the key financial records available to all Councillor and taxpayers.