Executive will have to fork out £300k for Peace Bridge

THE Executive will have to fork out over £300k for the Londonderry Peace Bridge afer part of an EU grant was withheld as a result of irregular expenditure incurred by ILEX.

Mr Kieran Donnelly, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) for Northern Ireland and Head of the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) made the revelation whilst reporting the results of the annual audit work carried out on Ilex Urban Regeneration Company Limited’s (Ilex) financial statements for 2011-12.

He said: “I am pleased to report that Ilex has worked effectively with its sponsor departments during 2011-12 to ensure that no new problems have occurred in addition to those that I first highlighted in 2010-112.

“I have, however, qualified my audit opinion on the 2011-12 financial statements because of certain problems that have arisen in the past and which continue to impact in the current year.”

He said he had identified £614,479 of irregular expenditure in 2011-12 arising from three issues.

“Last year I reported on procurement issues relating to consultancy services for the Peace Bridge and it has now been identified that this is likely to result in the disallowance of European Union (EU) grant funding amounting to £312,573. This expenditure will now be met by additional funding from the Northern Ireland Executive,” he stated.

“Additional irregular expenditure of £278,906 has been incurred during 2011-12 for two projects which I first reported on last year and which continue to not have the necessary approvals from sponsor Departments and DFP.”

He also said the starting salary for one director still had not been approved.

“The starting salary of one director has still not received the necessary departmental approvals for the amount of salary paid in excess of the normal minimum and therefore I have qualified my opinion on the excess amount of £23,000,” stated Mr Donnelly.

Ilex is an urban regeneration company limited by guarantee which was established in 2003 to promote the regeneration of Derry~Londonderry. My report on the 2010-11 accounts was published in March 2012 and was considered at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) session in April 2012. PAC reported on Ilex in July 2012.