A controversial internal council report into the handling of the authority’s contract with the Salvation Army to provide a rough sleeping ‘early intervention’ service was pulled because of concerns about its accuracy, The Press has learned.

The report had been requested by members of the council’s own health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee, who were concerned at the way the contract was allowed to end last September.

It was due to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s audit and governance committee last month – but was pulled before the meeting.

The report, while outlining some of the circumstances surrounding the ending of the contract, also criticised members of the scrutiny committee who had requested it for inviting Salvation Army staff affected by the ending of the contract to speak out.

Now Andrew Hollyer, the Liberal Democrat chair of the audit committee which had been due to consider the report, has admitted it was withdrawn because of ‘concerns’ about its accuracy.

York Press: Cllr Andrew HollyerCllr Andrew Hollyer (Image: Supplied)“Whilst a report was produced … concerns were raised about the accuracy of some of the statements included in the report,” Cllr Hollyer said.

“The Council's Director of Governance advised that he would be recommending that the item is deferred until the accuracy issues could be addressed.”

Cllr Hollyer stressed that he had asked for this to be done ‘as quickly and robustly as possible’ – possibly in time for the audit committee’s next meeting at the end of May.


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Cllr Danny Myers, the Labour chair of the health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee which requested the report, said it was essential that a report was rescheduled for discussion ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

He said: “We referred the whole handling of the Salvation Army contract to the Audit committee and asked for it to be reviewed due to our concerns arising from what we heard from both the council and Salvation Army at our November meeting.

York Press: Cllr Danny MyersCllr Danny Myers (Image: pic supplied)

“To understand what mistakes may have been made, and to ensure they can't happen again in future, is essential. I urge the audit committee to reschedule the discussion at the earliest opportunity.”

The city council announced last September that it would not be renewing the Salvation Army’s £95,000-a-year contract.

Instead, the authority said it would be using £260,000 of extra government funding over the next two years to expand its own rough sleepers Navigators service under a new homelessness strategy.

York Press: The Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey speaking to rough sleepers on the streets of YorkThe Salvation Army's Charlie Malarkey speaking to rough sleepers on the streets of York (Image: Stephen Lewis)

But the announcement was made so abruptly that the Salvation Army itself only learned that the contract was not to be extended in a call from The Press.

To make matters worse, an attempt to grant the charity a one-month contract extension to allow for a transition period came to nothing – because the council sent the contract out too late.

Lib Dem councillor Christian Vassie, who is vice-chair of the health scrutiny committee, today repeated his calls for an independent inquiry. He said he did not have confidence that an internal report would get to the bottom of what had happened.

Bryn Roberts, the council’s Director of Governance, said: “The report.. will now be reviewed and revised, and the revised version … will be published and referred to the Audit and Governance Committee as soon as it is completed.”