A REVIEW of the management of a grant scheme and its controversial funding of a property in Pembroke Dock found that there were instances of ‘non-compliance’ and assurance cannot be given that all work was completed to specification.

An internal review was ordered in April and the report is due to come before the Pembrokeshire County Council’s audit committee next week.

The Commercial Property Grant Scheme (CPGS) in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), and irregularities relating to it uncovered by Cllr Mike Stoddart, are being investigated by police.

Among the concerns were that work to properties, for which grant money was paid for, had not been actually been completed.

Concerns had also been raised about the Townscape Heritage Initiative. At an extraordinary meeting last week to discuss chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones the issue of the grant scheme and the ‘personal attack’ on Cllr Stoddart by the cabinet member in charge of the scheme Cllr David Pugh was raised again.

Responsibility for the scheme has been removed from Cllr Pugh’s remit and handed to cabinet member for housing Cllr David Simpson.

Cllr Stoddart said that both Cllrs Adams and Pugh had “lied” about the inspecting the roof of a property to “cover this council’s ineptitude in running this grant scheme”.

Cllrs Brian Hall and John Allen-Mirehouse attempted to defend the scheme and the senior council’s involvement but the discussion was curtailed and redirected back to the meeting’s agenda.

The previous lay chairman of the audit committee resigned after a “hostile” encounter with chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones during which he threatened to use private investigators to find out who had leaked information to the press about the altering of minutes relating to discussions of the scheme.

A management review of the CPGS Grant Scheme in relation to 29 Dimond Street found: “There were instances of non-compliance with the CPGS procedural manual” and because of that “assurance cannot be given that all the work within the project specification for 29 Dimond Street has been completed”.

The report adds that the areas on non-compliance must be further reviewed and disciplinary action considered.

They include not maintaining file notes to provide a clear trail of correspondence, not all correspondence was date stamped, there was no evidence that an itemised and detailed specification had been submitted prior to the application, application not dated, no evidence of regular site visits, insufficient evidence of physical or financial completion of the project to support authorisation of the grant payment and photographic evidence was not sufficient to provide assurance that all work had been completed.

The review found that the CPGS procedural manual made no reference to the requirement for verification checks to be carried out which would have allowed for checking processes and procedures were being adhered to.

Issues identified in the review include “anomalies with the dates recorded in the tender documentation” which were either not picked up or challenged.

“Similarly there was an email exchange on file whereby officers had some concerns about the evidence of payment; despite there being concerns, further evidence of defrayment (bank statements) was not requested. The evidence of defrayment obtained, whilst not in accordance with the procedural manual, was in accordance with the Instruction to Reporting Accountants by WEFO,” it adds.

It is recommended the structure of the Regeneration Division needs to be reviewed to “ensure that there is the management capacity, resource and the appropriate skills mix in order to deliver the CPGS and similar schemes with the expected level of governance and probity”.

It also states that CPGS manual must be made more robust with the inclusion of requirements for detailed photographic evidence, greater checks made on completion of work and verification of documentation and all records referenced and cross-referenced to ensure a clear audit trail.

The meeting will be held on Monday, September 22 at 1.30pm at County Hall.