Audit report to be published

PROCESS: Investors in old Beechworth gaol's purchase last November include Clayton Neil. PHOTO: Australian Centre for Rural Entreprenerurship

THE outcome of a probity audit in which Indigo Shire Council’s management of its conflict of interest procedures is being examined will be made public.

Indigo chief executive officer Gerry Smith confirmed in response to questions from the Advertiser on Monday that the $5000-plus audit of the declared interests of council officer Clayton Neil had gone ahead last week.

Mr Smith said the audit’s terms of reference included a review of the council’s processes to seek, receive and review expressions of interests in the old Beechworth railway station.

Mr Neil was council tourism manager and a director of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) when the council sought interest in the property and the adjoining rail trail precinct.

ACRE’s expression was later judged by the council as “preferred”.

Mr Smith said the terms of reference also required Crowe Howarth audit and assurance partner John Gavens to examine the council’s conflict of interest management procedures during the development and assessment of the rail precinct offer.

This extended to Mr Neil’s involvement with ACRE and the entity which purchased the old Beechworth gaol, in which ACRE is a participant.

Mr Smith said the terms of reference also included an examination of “the appropriateness of arrangements where council officers are engaged in outside activities in which the council will have some involvement – such as planning or development”.

Mr Neil in December notified Mr Smith of his intended resignation from his remaining council job as community services manager, so it is expected the auditor will now provide what Mr Smith described as “a general view” on council officers’ involvement in outside activities.

Mr Smith said he and Mayor Jenny O’Connor met with Mr Gavens at the start of the audit.


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