South Tyneside Green Party reacts to today’s audit committee findings 

 South Tyneside Green Party 

 15th March 2024 

Misuse of public money by disgraced former Labour Leader, Iain Malcolm, is exposed – with more to come

South Tyneside Council’s Audit Committee met this morning to discuss and scrutinise the circumstances that led to the shocking misuse of public money by disgraced former Labour leader of South Tyneside Council, Iain Malcolm.

Chief Financial Officer, Stuart Reid, stated in his opening words that there were ‘clearly weaknesses in the system that allowed this to happen and they were exploited’

The people of South Tyneside put their trust in elected councillors to act honestly, with integrity and with the best interests of residents at the heart of everything they do. It is clear, listening to the extent of the situation, that a culture of bullying, intimidation and wrongdoing has been allowed to develop and carry on unchallenged for over a decade.

Green Party Councillor and deputy chair of the Audit Committee, Andrew Guy, stated “This report is horrific reading.
Austerity came in and we had so many cuts – shutting vital services, telling residents we couldn’t support them, putting their council tax up and meanwhile, someone in this building is running around, at the expense of the residents, on a shopping spree. Buying designer clothes, eating out at restaurants that some of us can only dream of. It’s absolutely appalling. For the record, Mr Malcolm has tarnished the reputation of this entire council and every councillor. This cannot be allowed to happen again”

Cllr Guy thanked officers and others involved in bringing this to light and asked for clarification around the former Chief Executive of the Council’s own practices, after he authorised this card directly to Mr Malcolm.

Mr Reid explained the much more robust processes which are now in place and that no other instances of this nature were found during their full investigation.
He went on to say, “The police have further information from their investigation that they could provide. Audit Committee can request that information from Northumbria Police”

Cllr Guy said, “I’m a bit confused why the police haven’t provided us with all the evidence to date. I’d like the committee to consider a formal request to Northumbria Police for any other information they have to come back – I’d like us to have sight of that so that we can carefully review it”

That request was agreed by committee, along with calls for a full investigation and audit of Mr Malcolm’s own business involvement and interests relating to significant council contracts, which was also agreed.

The public gallery was then emptied so that the Audit Committee could consider a further item relating to housing allocations.

Mr Malcolm’s actions have clearly served to erode public trust to such an extent, that it’s undermined the confidence of thousands of South Tynesiders and many have lost trust in both local democracy and this Labour-run council.

There are many Labour councillors sitting the council chamber today who served under Malcolm’s regime – who not only allowed this behaviour to continue for years but also supported this toxic environment and did not speak out, despite them having the privilege of a platform to do so. South Tyneside Green Party would hope that those current Labour councillors take time to reflect and consider their own positions as elected members.

Your Green Party councillors and campaigners work hard all year round to build trust, listen to local people, act on their concerns and be their voice in the council chamber – with the values of fairness, openness and transparency at the core of what we do.

Leader of the Opposition, Councillor David Francis, said,
“We know now that there is more to come out of this investigation.
We hope that those who have acted dishonestly and used their positions of influence for personal gain are held to account, so that the people of South Tyneside can have their trust in local democracy restored and are confident that this kind of behaviour is never allowed to happen again.”

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