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Camden New Journal - COMMENT
Published: 16 July 2009
Our millions mismanaged and they want to keep it secret

IN an astonishing turn of events, an internecine war has broken out among the various public organisations responsible for a large Victorian building in Camden Town known as Arlington House.
It was once called Rowton House, way back at the beginning of the last century. But whatever its name it served the same purpose – to provide cheap accommodation for the homeless.
For nearly a century the hostel went about its business, rarely reported in the local press.
But once it fell into the hands of the charity Novas, little appears to have gone right for the hostel.
In the past four years Camden council, along with the government department Communities and Local Government, has filtered nearly £13million into Novas’s coffers for renovations and an estimated £1.6million a year for management of the hostel.
But unable to satisfactorily handle their finances Novas passed on ownership of Arlington House to the One Housing Group in June, after auditors BDO Stoy Hayward had been commissioned by the Housing Corporation to find out what had led to Novas’s financial crisis.
To muddy this tale even further, it should be understood that the Housing Corporation split into two leaving the inquiry in the hands of one of its successors, the new Tenants Services Authority (TSA). This week war broke out after BDO Stoy Hayward submitted their findings that Novas had mismanaged their affairs.
While accepting the verdict of mismanagement, executives at Novas have nevertheless publicly slagged off BDO, accusing them of using a draft report to sling mud about “personal” affairs.
To make matters worse TSA have refused to make public BDO’s final report partly on the grounds that it contains “prejudicial” comments about individuals.
TSA has merely released a watered down press release which, in outline, condemns Novas as having committed serious failures and financial mismanagement in the running of the charity.
While these three parties line up against each other in open warfare, they appear to be unaware of the needs and rights of the public.
If we were dealing with private companies they would have every right to keep an internal row secret. But Novas and TSA are public bodies, funded by the taxpayer. What right do they have to keep their affairs secret?
A great deal of public money has been spent.
Every penny has been paid for by the taxpayer.
The public, therefore, have a right to know whether their money has been spent wisely or foolishly.

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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