Supreme Court consent orders have been made granting Penrith Council access to Penrith Business Alliance’s (PBA) financial records, amid concerns public money given to the former organisation has not been properly accounted for.
Councillors decided in July last year to force the PBA to hand over its paper trail.
“Following a number of unsuccessful requests to access financial documents, Penrith Council commenced legal proceedings against the PBA in the Supreme Court on April 7, 2017,” a Council spokesperson said in a statement issued late last week.
“The proceedings were to seek an order from the Court that the PBA provide Council with access to records evidencing the use of funds provided to the PBA by Council from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.”
The PBA was created in 2009 as an independent Council-funded entity to deliver citywide economic development and employment services, and was under the chairmanship of Paul Brennan.
It was funded with public money totalling $3.5 million.
However, following an independent review, funding was withdrawn in June 2015.
On Friday, May 5, the Supreme Court issued consent orders that PBA serve Council, by July 21, 2017, with documents evidencing how monies paid by Council to the PBA in the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 were paid out or used by the PBA.
Council then has one week to inspect the documents and make copies if required.
Penrith Mayor, John Thain, said he looked forward to disclosure of the documents as per the court directions, but was hesitant to predict where things would go from here if there appeared to be anomalies.
“I guess we have to cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.
Both parties are to pay their own costs of the proceedings.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.