July 1, 2022 12.30 pm

Mystery over South Kesteven scrutiny review as it nears a year of secrecy

The report has been withheld from the public since August 2021

An allegedly highly critical report about South Kesteven District Council will remain “secret” for another two months – taking it over a year since it was first received, a Freedom of Information Request has revealed.

The request, made by Phil Gadd on May 31, asked when the report – which was commissioned to review how decisions and scrutiny at the council worked –  would be presented to the public.

The SKDC-commissioned review was carried out by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny which was by an independent auditor. The request also confirmed the review cost £5,520 to produce.

In his request, Mr Gadd said: “The people of SKDC were promised open, honest & transparent governance.

“However, months later we are still denied the opportunity to see the results.”

SKDC’s response said “the final report will be published over the next couple of months, together with an action plan.”

It promised the document would be published “in its entirety with no redactions”.

“Work has been taking place to consider the recommendations contained within the review and develop an action plan for implementing areas recommended for improvement,” the authority added.

The report, received on August 31, 2021, was previously questioned by Independent Councillors Ashley Baxter and Phil Dilks in April after nearly nine months of being hidden.

If the FOI is correct, it could take the length of time since the report was received to over a year.

At the time, Councillor Baxter said: “Taxpayers deserve openness and transparency.

“That’s why I wanted to share the secret report with the press and public but was warned not to by the council’s monitoring officer.”

He said the report made “some positive comments” but added it “also highlights massive gaps”.

It is understood Councillor Baxter is continuing with his enquries following the latest request.

SKDC was asked for additional comment but a spokesman said it had “nothing to add to this”.