DSD probes Tullyally firm
THE Department of Social Development (DSD) is investigating the old Tullyally and District Development Group Ltd. (TDDG), which ceased trading earler this year due to debts of up to £100k, leaving a huge void for the local area.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said the “full facts” of the group, which received over half-a-million pounds in neighbourhood renewal funding between 2007 and its financial collapse in 2012, will hopefully be established by the enquiry.
He also revealed that despite TDDG having been wound down its Trustees still own the local community centre and DSD has no legal authority to make the premises available to a new group, Tullyally 2012, which was recently set up to fill the void.
Mr McCausland stated: “The premises formerly occupied by Tullyally and District Development Group remain in the ownership of the Trustees of the Group, some of who are residents of the area.
“My Department has no legal responsibility for the premises or its contents and has no authority to enter the building. The Department seeks through rigorous procedures to ensure value for money, whilst protecting public funds and as such will advise other funders accordingly when areas of concern arise.
“However, the Department has no control over assets which have been acquired with funding which has been provided by other organisations.”
UUP MLA Ross Hussey asked the Minister if his Department had audited the accounts of TDDG to ensure that proper procedures were followed to maintain an assets register and an account of spend of public money.
The Minister revealed that a special unit had supervised public expenditure but that an ongoing investigation would establish the full facts of the situation.
He stated: “The Department seeks through rigorous procedures to ensure value for money whilst protecting public funds. The Planning and Governance Unit within the Department performs Financial Systems and Control Assessments (FSCAs) to determine the amount of vouching required in support of claims for payment.
“Payments from the Department cannot be drawn down without the relevant vouching therefore public monies are adequately protected. An investigation is ongoing to establish the full facts of this group’s situation. It would not be appropriate to comment further in advance of the outcome of the investigation.”
It has also been revealed that the Minister is now willing to meet the newly constituted Tullyally 2012 group which held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) in July to work towards addressing what a community survey called an “exponential growth in anti-social behaviour” and the development of a “pronounced drug problem” in the area since the collapse of TDDG.
He advised: “Tullyally 2012 has made initial contact with my Department’s North West Development Office. A letter has been issued advising the group that a meeting will be accommodated following the Group’s planned meeting with the Waterside NR Partnership Board scheduled for September 27, 2012.”
The development follows a meeting between the North West Development Office (NWDO), Town Clerk Sharon O’Connor, Helen Quigley of the Inner City Trust, and DUP Aldermen William Hay and Drew Thompson, which was held in August to discuss a way forward on this issue of Tullyally Community Centre and the requirements of the local community.
“All parties have agreed to work collaboratively to identify and progress this matter in an expedient manner,” said Mr McCausland.
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