Prescott inquiry to continue next year

The investigation into a Dunedin City Council manager's private profits from vending machines at Moana Pool is to continue next year.

Council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery yesterday confirmed the probe into aquatic services manager Steve Prescott's contract, involving independent auditor Crowe Horwath, was not expected to be completed until late January.

He had earlier hoped it might be concluded before Christmas, but that was no longer the case.

The exact completion date would depend on the availability of people, but he had nothing further to add yesterday.

The update came after it was confirmed last month Mr Prescott had been profiting from a private contract to supply vending machines at the pool.

Mr Prescott had been receiving between $6000 and $10,000 a year for the past 12 years from the deal, prompting the council to confirm it was investigating the appropriateness of the contractual arrangements.

The investigation has since been widened to include the handling of an earlier official information request, after the Otago Daily Times was told in February last year council staff were not privately profiting from the machines.

DCC Prescott inquiry

The DCC's claim that the investigation into Steve Prescott's dealings at Moana Pool will be done by an "independent auditor" is their assertion and should not be presented as a factual description. In my view the DCC's claim that their choice of investigator is "independent" is destroyed because of the long-standing business relationship the investigator has with the DCC. Also the DCC's chosen investigator specialises in financial advice and financial auditing, these skills do not match the skills needed.


DCC wrong

The DCC is wrong to ask the "independent auditor" to investigate their allegedly dishonest responses to Official information requests. This is always the job of the Ombudsman and the apparent lack of complaints from the two media agencies involved indicates to me either lazzyness or an unwillingness to upset the DCC. If no complaints are laid then the correct procedure is for the DCC to request that the Ombudsman investigate the matter. The alternative to an investigation is for the DCC to admitt wrong-doing, appologize and then work to fix the systemic problems. [abridged]

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