In 2015 local residents in England acquired a legal right to inspect, question and challenge items in their council’s accounts. The aim of The Peoples Audit website is to raise awareness of these rights and share lessons learned.
The Peoples Audit is volunteer-run network of people who believe local government spending should be open and accountable to local people. We share a common interest in ensuring that our local councils spend money wisely and can account for that expenditure. We no commercial affiliations and do not receive any external funding – all the costs of this project have been paid for out of our own pockets.
We believe that the facts should stand for themselves regardless of politics. However, given that Lambeth have chosen to accuse us of being a political front organisation (rather than address the issues in our reports), we have listed below the political affiliations (if any) of the people who contribute to our reports.
We can be contacted by e-mail at RightToAudit@gmail.com or via Twitter: @PeoplesAudit.
Who We Are
Our members include experienced professionals from the audit, finance, construction, ICT and not-for-profit sectors and the Civil Service. We include and welcome supporters of all political parties – and none. Our report investigating Lambeth’s 2015/2016 accounts has won praise from many people – the following people contributed to the report:
Simon Morrow (BSc, MRICS) is a chartered quantity surveyor with 30 years’ experience. Simon investigated the new town hall, sale of council land to Pocket Living, housing major works, salaries and redundancies, capital investment, litigation and governance.
Simon has never been a member of any political party.
Gerlinde Gniewosz (BCom (Hons), MBA) is a graduate from Harvard Business School and a qualified accountant. Gerlinde started her career in investment banking and has since held senior strategic finance positions in several multinational organisations. She currently works as a consultant. Gerlinde scrutinised housing finances, including estate regeneration, day to day services and major works. Gerlinde has never previously been a member of any political party but has decided to stand as a candidate for the Green party in the 2018 London local Government elections as a protest at Lambeth council’s decision to demolish her home.
Michael Keane (BSc, MBA) is a retired manager with 35 years experience of management in the public sector. He is a maths graduate with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), His current priority is auditing council compliance with the Local Government Transparency Code 2015 and finding and challenging errors in official information. He describes himself as a campaigner for Transparency, libraries and public realm – not just parks and green spaces, roads as well. Michael researched data inaccuracies.
Michael is a former Labour party supporter who is now standing as a candidate for the Green party in Oval ward.
Tom Keene is an artist, researcher and programmer with 20+ years of experience. He is currently conducting PhD research into Housing Database systems used by Local Authorities. Tom created a database analysing housing repairs and has worked with residents of Cressingham Gardens to audit repairs data on the Estate. Tom has never been a member of any political party.
Ben Rymer (MSc; Committee member, Friends of Tate South Lambeth library) investigated libraries and Lambeth’s contract with GLL. Ben has worked for national and international charities for over ten years, carrying out primary and secondary research projects in that time.
Ben has never been a member of any political party.
Of choosing to become involved with the Peoples’ Audit, Ben says:
“As someone who is politically unaligned, I see the Peoples’ Audit as a vital way of bringing transparency and rigour to local policymaking, for instance to important areas like the Councils contract management and tendering.
I chose to work with the People’s Audit for two reasons: first, having seen decisions like the one to install a gym in my local library, I was concerned that the level of scrutiny of major Council policies was too low, with the Cabinet structure meaning effective checks and balances on decision making are often absent.
Second, with 59 out of 63 Councillors from the same party in Lambeth, we often do not see the deliberative debate needed for good policy, nor do we see the advocates of policies forced to make the case for why their ideas should be adopted. Perhaps for this reason, decisions taken by Cabinet often do not represent the wishes of affected communities.”
George Turner (BA., MA. in International Relations, John Hopkins Univ., Washington) is an investigative journalist and researcher at the Tax Justice Network. George investigated the salary of Craig Tunstall and helped to edit the report.
George has previously stood for the Liberal Democrats as a parliamentary and local council candidate.
Our work has been covered by a number of local and national outlets including BBC Sunday Politics, The Guardian, Private Eye, Public Finance and Supply Management magazines and local news blogs.
BBC Sunday Politics show:
Scrutiny Mutiny – on Lambeths attempt to restrict powers of citizen audit in response to our scrutiny work:
Private Eye_Scrutiny Mutiny
Lambeth Squawk – on our piece analysing Lambeths increased levels of highly-paid staff
Private Eye_Lambeth Squawk
News From Crystal Palace:
People’s Audit report on Lambeth council has “unearthed evidence of extensive financial mismanagement and failings in its financial governance that suggest millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted. “Lack of governance within Lambeth council appears to be systemic.”
Labour-run council moves to block future People’s Audits