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Reviews into Guildford Borough Council conclude

Millmead Offices

Guildford Borough Council today published two reviews into its governance and housing landlord function, alongside an Improvement Plan to address every recommendation, and an Independent Assurance Panel to provide support and oversight.

In January, the Council had commissioned reviews of its governance and its housing landlord function. The reviews were carried out by teams from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE). The reviews were commissioned after potential fraud was discovered in the Council's housing landlord function.

A police investigation and an employment investigation carried out by an external law firm are continuing.

The SOLACE reports were published today and highlight serious issues in the Council's governance.

The Council also published its comprehensive Improvement Plan. This addresses every recommendation and finding from the two reports, and ensures that the Council provides services that residents and businesses can be proud of.

The Council will also be appointing an Independent Assurance Panel. This is likely to include two of the lead SOLACE reviewers.

Progress against the Improvement Plan will be reported to councillors every six months. This will be accompanied by an update from the Independent Assurance Panel. Both will be made public.

Leader of the Council, Julia McShane, said:

'We acknowledge the findings of these reports and accept all the recommendations in full. They have been incorporated into our Improvement Plan. We have put in place robust independent oversight and support to ensure full transparency. There will also be regular reporting back to council on progress being made.'

'The people of Guildford deserve better from their council and for that we give a heartfelt apology and a commitment to put right the long-standing issues which we have uncovered. We have invited scrutiny and embrace accountability and will not rest until we have a resilient, well managed council of which we can all be proud.'

Deputy Leader of the Council, Tom Hunt, said:

'We apologise unreservedly to the residents and taxpayers of Guildford. The SOLACE reports identify serious issues around the Council's governance, operations, and controls. This is unacceptable. We are utterly determined to root out every problem and to put matters right. The people of Guildford deserve nothing less.'

Pedro Wrobel, Chief Executive of Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils, said:

'I recognise everything that the SOLACE reports identify, and accept all the findings in full. This is not okay, and I came here to deal with it.

Over the past two and half months, we have been developing a comprehensive Improvement Plan to address the issues at Guildford Borough Council. It addresses every recommendation from these reports and goes further.

I am delighted with the appointment of the Independent Assurance Panel. It is critical that we make everything open and transparent. We are here to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

I am determined to ensure the Council is sustainable, delivers excellent value for money, and provides services that our residents and businesses can be proud of.

We will not do this alone. I look forward to working with partners and our communities and businesses to make Guildford a brilliant place to live, work and do business.'

Amanda Masters, Chief Executive of Experience Guildford, said:

'We value our relationship with Guildford Borough Council and will continue to work with them to deliver projects in the town centre, supporting the vision to make Guildford a great place for everyone.'

Will Davies, Chief Operating Officer of the University of Surrey, said:

'We are proud to call Guildford our home and value the partnerships we share with Guildford Borough Council. We welcome the forward looking vision and support their determination to make Guildford a thriving place for students, business and innovation."

Read our SOLACE reports and improvement plans (opens new window)

Previous releases about our housing service

March 2024: Decision to launch investigation into housing maintenance agreed

February 2024: Housing maintenance review at Guildford Borough Council prompts further investigation

February 2024: Housing services update February 2024

November 2023: Housing services update November 2023