Liverpool appoints independent audit advisers

Stephen Gregory and Ramone Johnson will sit on the city council’s audit committee as independent technical advisers.

Liverpool City Council advertised the positions in July, saying it was looking for “independent people with practical experience in professional services such as financial management or accountancy, to sit on the audit committee”.

Johnson and Gregory will not receive allowance or payment for their work but will be able to claim expenses. They are expected to serve for three years, according to the job advertisement.

Gregory is an independent consultant after retiring from his position as a partner with the international accounting firm Ernst & Young in 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Liverpool and also attended Harvard Business School.

Gregory said that he would use his experience improving the processes of corporations to help Liverpool.

“I’ve worked with audit committees and risk committees and I want to be able to do the same for the council,” he said.

Johnson has a background in civil engineering and is a senior project manager at the consultancy firm Turner & Townsend. Previously, he worked for Arup and acted as project manager for the remediation of Liverpool Festival Gardens.

Johnson said that he had applied for the position to help the council “with navigating through a tricky situation”.

“I understand that at its core that it is a very good organisation and, by joining the committee, I hope to get it back on course,” he continued.

The independent advisers were appointed as part of the local authority’s response to government strategic adviser Max Caller’s Liverpool City Council Best Value Inspection. The March report was published in the midst of Operation Aloft, an ongoing police investigation into corruption within the authority. No one has yet been charged.

Since the report’s publication, the government has separately appointed commissioners to oversee the city council’s regeneration, property and highways departments.

Liverpool City Council’s audit committee is responsible for reviewing council governance, control frameworks and risk management. It ensures that councillors and co-opted members abide by the council’s codes of conduct.

“These roles are a key part of making the council’s scrutiny procedures as strong as they possibly can be and I am delighted with the quality of the appointments we have made,” said Cllr Kris Brown, chair of the audit committee.

“We want the members of the Audit Committee to be getting the best possible advice, enriching their ability to scrutinise the organisation, and Stephen and Ramone will help us do that,” he continued.

“They bring additional knowledge and expertise, reinforcing the committee’s political neutrality and independence. Providing constructive challenge, as part of the committee, supports the council’s ambition for open and transparent government in the wake of the recent Best Value Inspection.”

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