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Lambeth to act over malpractice allegations

First Edition

LAMBETH Council in south London may appoint an independent consultant to oversee changes after a damning report exposed unlawful practice and possible fraud over a 10-year period, writes Ngaio Crequer.

It is expected that it might take an independent consultant about six months to oversee changes.

Steve Whalley, the leader of the council, will discuss with his colleagues the best way to overhaul the structure and to 'make deep-seated cultural changes in its thinking'.

This follows a report by Lambeth's own officers, which revealed a catalogue of abuse involving civil engineering, highways, housing repairs and maintenance. It pictured a council out of control, with decisions to make staff redundant being made without authority, work paid for but not carried out, breaches of planning legislation, and failures to comply with undertakings given to the district auditor.

Police will be asked to investigate some of the instances cited in the report, which says the malpractice may have cost the council millions of pounds.

Mr Whalley said last night: 'We need to . . . root out anybody who can be seen to have been acting corruptly and to see they are prosecuted and disciplined; we have to look for people who have gone against specific council instructions and discipline them; and we need to ensure that our systems are sound so that decisions made are properly implemented.'