Cambridgeshire Lib Dems demand transparency over Manor Farm affair

Liberal Democrats Lucy Nethsingha and Aidan Van de Weyer have demanded that the County Council release the audit report into the tenancy of Manor Farm, Girton, following the decision by the Cambridgeshire County Council Audit & Accounts Committee to publish only one small part of the report.

Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said,

“This sordid saga should have been coming to an end with the completion of the audit report into the tenancy of Manor Farm, Girton. Instead, the public is being kept in the dark while Tory councillors and their lawyers work out how much they can keep secret.

“Cllr Steve Count, the Tory Leader of the County Council, has said that he ‘fully accepts all the findings of the audit, and its recommendations’. Yet he refuses to support the publication of the findings and all the recommendations. It is untenable to selectively refer to parts of a secret report in this way. Cllr Count is making a blatant attempt to influence the opinion of the public before the full facts are known.”

Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Cambridgeshire County Council, said,

“We heard on Friday that members of the audit committee had been told that they had personal liability if they stepped out of line and published any part of the report. The council lawyers should be finding ways of enabling publication, not giving ammunition to those who want to hide this scandal.

“I call on Cllr Count to tell us his side of the story, not hide behind spurious claims of impartiality. He is the Leader. This happened on his watch. The buck stops with him.

“Cllr Count has many questions to answer. What did he know about the award of the tenancy to his Deputy Leader Roger Hickford and when? When did he learn of any of the allegations against Roger Hickford? What action did he take as Leader at the time, especially in relation to the welfare of staff? Why did Cllr Count appoint Roger Hickford to the board of the Greater Cambridge Partnership when the investigation was underway?

“If Cllr Count and Tories on the County Council continue to cover up the findings of the audit report, public confidence in the Council’s ability to act fairly and in the interest of all residents will be severely damaged.”

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