New row brewing as council internal review rejects investigation into officer meddling in Milton Keynes warehouse saga

An internal auditor has rejected holding an investigation into alleged council officer interference into an independent report about a giant warehouse in Milton Keynes.
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Milton Keynes Council’s chief executive Michael Bracey had asked chief internal auditor Duncan Wilkinson at the start of the month to look into allegations made in two emails understood to be from former members of staff.

Mr Wilkinson told Mr Bracey, in an email dated October 8 and seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, that he had reviewed the information provided and concluded “in simple terms I believe the emails etc do not provide a sufficient basis for audit investigation.”

He said because emails had been “redacted” to exclude the names of people making the allegations, he could not follow it up.

A drone picture of the warehouse in BlakelandsA drone picture of the warehouse in Blakelands
A drone picture of the warehouse in Blakelands

But Mr Wilkinson also concluded that because police are involved in looking into complaints the council itself should not carry out its own investigation “without permission from the police”.

He adds that another internal audit might itself be seen as “inappropriate” and itself be seen as interfering in the process.

Independent consultant Marc Dorfman, who is writing a report about how the warehouse, in Blakelands, was allowed to double in height, has also said that his independence has not been compromised.

The council said this week that it expects to see the report by the end of October.

Campaigning Blakelands Residents Association has called for the council to call in new external auditors, saying it has lost confidence in the ability of the current review to get to what they see as the truth into what happened behind the scenes.

They believe that the Dorfman review is being seen as a business improvement exercise instead of a search for the truth.

A petition calling on the council to instruct a new external review do that has been signed by 380 people.

The residents also say they are compiling a detailed file of information to back up allegations of meddling in the process.

And tomorrow evening the saga is set to explode at the full council where Tory councillor John Bint (Broughton) has lodged a hard hitting motion about the planning department, saying that there has been the “absence of visible action from the leader of the council.”

Council leader Cllr Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton) has hit back in proposed amendments, saying the development control committee should not be politicised, adding that action to improve the department should be welcomed.

The Marland amendment also includes a clause that says that internal audit has found that “there is no basis to corroborate a specific allegation of officer interference in the independent report”, which Cllr Bint rejects.

Tomorrow’s full council meeting at 7pm will be broadcast live on YouTube.