It’s Mr Lovejoy time of the year again

George Lovejoy by Charles L Havell c1850

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has published draft accounts for the year ending 31 March 2017 and they are available on the council’s website among the policies, finance and legal information pages.

The draft statement of accounts is 148 pages long, 25 pages longer than the 2016 edition. As well as detailed financials there is a good summary in the narrative statement of what was a difficult financial year for RBC and the challenges of the year ahead.

George Lovejoy (1808-1883) was a well known bookseller and printer in London Street. His shop was where RISC’s World Shop is now (pictured) and he is one of the Katesgrovians buried in Reading old cemetery at Cemetery Junction.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, he was one of the auditors of Reading corporation’s accounts. He came into conflict with the council over expenditure included in the accounts.

Lovejoy claimed in 1857 the right not only to declare the borough accounts to be technically correct (which they were) but also to pass judgement upon whether certain expenditures were legitimate [ref 1].

Members of the public and electors have certain rights in the audit process which are set out in the notice of inspection. In summary, between 3 July 2017 and 11 August 2017:

  • any person can, ‘on reasonable notice’, inspect the accounts and certain related docume
  • a local government elector for the area of the Council may ask the auditor questions,
  • a local government elector for the area of the Council may object to the accounts.

The National Audit Office (NAO) sets out some principles for using these rights responsibly:

You will be expected to have read and inspected the accounts and asked relevant questions before objecting. Objecting to your authority’s accounts is a serious matter.

The final accounts are expected to be approved by the audit and governance committee on behalf of RBC before the end of September.


References

  1. Alexander, Alan. Borough Government and Politics. Reading 1835-1985

Links

  1. Draft Statement of Accounts 2016-2017
  2. Projected Outturn Position 2016/17 – Policy Committee 12 June 2017
  3. Notice of Inspection
  4. Council Accounts: A Guide to Your Rights
  5. Reading Museum online collection – George Lovejoy
  6. Katesgrovians in Reading Old Cemetery – John Cecil Grainger
  7. Katesgrovians in Reading old cemetery – John and Eliza Philbrick
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