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Notice of Public Rights 2020

Notice of Public Rights 2020: (Published 14th June 2020)

Smaller authority name: Temple Cloud with Cameley Parish Council
NOTICE OF PUBLIC RIGHTS AND PUBLICATION
OF UNAUDITED ANNUAL GOVERNANCE &
ACCOUNTABILITY RETURN
ACCOUNTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2020
Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 Sections 26 and 27
The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/234)
NOTICE NOTES

  1. Date of announcement 14/6/2020 (a)
  2. Each year the smaller authority’s Annual Governance and Accountability
    Return (AGAR) needs to be reviewed by an external auditor appointed by
    Smaller Authorities’ Audit Appointments Ltd. The unaudited AGAR has been
    published with this notice. As it has yet to be reviewed by the appointed auditor,
    it is subject to change as a result of that review.
    Any person interested has the right to inspect and make copies of the
    accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all
    books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating
    to those records must be made available for inspection by any person
    interested. For the year ended 31 March 2020, these documents will be available
    on reasonable notice by application to:
    (b) Philip Edwards, Clerk and RFO to Temple Cloud with Cameley Parish
    Council Telephone: 07591 257067 Email: info@templecloud.org.uk.
    Correspondence: 4 Valley View, Clutton, BS39 5SN
    commencing on (c) Monday 15 June 2020 _____________
    and ending on (d) Friday 24 July 2020 _______________
  3. Local government electors and their representatives also have:
     The opportunity to question the appointed auditor about the accounting
    records; and
     The right to make an objection which concerns a matter in respect of which
    the appointed auditor could either make a public interest report or apply to
    the court for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful. Written notice
    of an objection must first be given to the auditor and a copy sent to the
    smaller authority.
    The appointed auditor can be contacted at the address in paragraph 4 below for
    this purpose between the above dates only.
  4. The smaller authority’s AGAR is subject to review by the appointed auditor
    under the provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, the
    Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the NAO’s Code of Audit Practice
  5. The appointed auditor is:
    PKF Littlejohn LLP (Ref: SBA Team)
    15 Westferry Circus
    Canary Wharf
    London E14 4HD
    (sba@pkf-littlejohn.com)
  6. This announcement is made by (e) Philip Edwards, Clerk / RFO.


    LOCAL AUTHORITY ACCOUNTS: A SUMMARY OF YOUR RIGHTS
    Please note that this summary applies to all relevant smaller authorities, including local
    councils, internal drainage boards and ‘other’ smaller authorities.
    The basic position
    The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) governs the work of auditors appointed to smaller
    authorities. This summary explains the provisions contained in Sections 26 and 27 of the Act. The Act
    and the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 also cover the duties, responsibilities and rights of smaller
    authorities, other organisations and the public concerning the accounts being audited.
    As a local elector, or an interested person, you have certain legal rights in respect of the accounting
    records of smaller authorities. As an interested person you can inspect accounting records and related
    documents. If you are a local government elector for the area to which the accounts relate you can also
    ask questions about the accounts and object to them. You do not have to pay directly for exercising
    your rights. However, any resulting costs incurred by the smaller authority form part of its running costs.
    Therefore, indirectly, local residents pay for the cost of you exercising your rights through their council
    tax.
    The right to inspect the accounting records
    Any interested person can inspect the accounting records, which includes but is not limited to local
    electors. You can inspect the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all
    books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records. You
    can copy all, or part, of these records or documents. Your inspection must be about the accounts, or
    relate to an item in the accounts. You cannot, for example, inspect or copy documents unrelated to the
    accounts, or that include personal information (Section 26 (6) – (10) of the Act explains what is meant
    by personal information). You cannot inspect information which is protected by commercial
    confidentiality. This is information which would prejudice commercial confidentiality if it was released to
    the public and there is not, set against this, a very strong reason in the public interest why it should
    nevertheless be disclosed.
    When smaller authorities have finished preparing accounts for the financial year and approved them,
    they must publish them (including on a website). There must be a 30 working day period, called the
    ‘period for the exercise of public rights’, during which you can exercise your statutory right to inspect
    the accounting records. Smaller authorities must tell the public, including advertising this on their
    website, that the accounting records and related documents are available to inspect. By arrangement
    you will then have 30 working days to inspect and make copies of the accounting records. You may
    have to pay a copying charge. The 30 working day period must include a common period of inspection
    during which all smaller authorities’ accounting records are available to inspect. This will be 1-14 July
    2020 for 2019/20 accounts. The advertisement must set out the dates of the period for the exercise of
    public rights, how you can communicate to the smaller authority that you wish to inspect the accounting
    records and related documents, the name and address of the auditor, and the relevant legislation that
    governs the inspection of accounts and objections.
    The right to ask the auditor questions about the accounting records
    You should first ask your smaller authority about the accounting records, since they hold all the
    details. If you are a local elector, your right to ask questions of the external auditor is enshrined in law.
    However, while the auditor will answer your questions where possible, they are not always obliged to
    do so. For example, the question might be better answered by another organisation, require
    investigation beyond the auditor’s remit, or involve disproportionate cost (which is borne by the local
    taxpayer). Give your smaller authority the opportunity first to explain anything in the accounting records
    that you are unsure about. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, you can question the external
    auditor about the accounting records.
    The law limits the time available for you formally to ask questions. This must be done in the period for
    the exercise of public rights, so let the external auditor know your concern as soon as possible. The
    advertisement or notice that tells you the accounting records are available to inspect will also give the
    period for the exercise of public rights during which you may ask the auditor questions, which here
    means formally asking questions under the Act. You can ask someone to represent you when asking
    the external auditor questions.
    Before you ask the external auditor any questions, inspect the accounting records fully, so you know
    what they contain. Please remember that you cannot formally ask questions, under the Act, after the
    end of the period for the exercise of public rights. You may ask your smaller authority other questions
    about their accounts for any year, at any time. But these are not questions under the Act.
    You can ask the external auditor questions about an item in the accounting records for the financial
    year being audited. However, your right to ask the external auditor questions is limited. The external
    auditor can only answer ‘what’ questions, not ‘why’ questions. The external auditor cannot answer
    questions about policies, finances, procedures or anything else unless it is directly relevant to an item
    in the accounting records. Remember that your questions must always be about facts, not opinions. To
    avoid misunderstanding, we recommend that you always put your questions in writing.
    The right to make objections at audit
    You have inspected the accounting records and asked your questions of the smaller authority. Now you
    may wish to object to the accounts on the basis that an item in them is in your view unlawful or there
    are matters of wider concern arising from the smaller authority’s finances. A local government elector
    can ask the external auditor to apply to the High Court for a declaration that an item of account is
    unlawful, or to issue a report on matters which are in the public interest. You must tell the external
    auditor which specific item in the accounts you object to and why you think the item is unlawful, or why
    you think that a public interest report should be made about it. You must provide the external auditor
    with the evidence you have to support your objection. Disagreeing with income or spending does not
    make it unlawful. To object to the accounts you must write to the external auditor stating you want to
    make an objection, including the information and evidence below and you must send a copy to the
    smaller authority. The notice must include:
     confirmation that you are an elector in the smaller authority’s area;
     why you are objecting to the accounts and the facts on which you rely;
     details of any item in the accounts that you think is unlawful; and
     details of any matter about which you think the external auditor should make a public interest
    report.
    Other than it must be in writing, there is no set format for objecting. You can only ask the external auditor
    to act within the powers available under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
    A final word
    You may not use this ‘right to object’ to make a personal complaint or claim against your smaller
    authority. You should take such complaints to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau, local Law Centre or
    to your solicitor. Smaller authorities, and so local taxpayers, meet the costs of dealing with questions
    and objections. In deciding whether to take your objection forward, one of a series of factors the auditor
    must take into account is the cost that will be involved, they will only continue with the objection if it is
    in the public interest to do so. They may also decide not to consider an objection if they think that it is
    frivolous or vexatious, or if it repeats an objection already considered. If you appeal to the courts against
    an auditor’s decision not to apply to the courts for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful, you
    will have to pay for the action yourself.
    For more detailed guidance on public rights and
    the special powers of auditors, copies of the
    publication Local authority accounts: A guide to
    your rights are available from the NAO website.
    If you wish to contact your authority’s appointed
    external auditor please write to the address in
    paragraph 4 of the Notice of Public Rights and
    Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance &
    Accountability Return.

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