Airport remains 'significant risk' but Council ahead of curve on audits
A fresh audit report has shown that City of Derry Airport (CODA) remains a ‘significant risk’ and the NI Audit Office will ‘continue to review the key issues impacting the financial viability’.
Leading Local Government Auditor, Colette Kane made the observation at the latest meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council' s Assurance, Audit and Risk Committee.
Her report stated: "Based on current airport routes, trading and funding secured from the Government, the Council has projected that it has sufficient funds to ensure the financial viability of the airport until at least February 2023. Further the Council hopes to obtain further government funding assistance post March 2023.
"Despite this more positive funding position we are of the view that significant risk to the going concern to the airport remains due to the potential impact of the pandemic in that: airlines are struggling financially in the current environment and may make route changes; no date has been set yet as to when citizens can go on holidays; and it is likely to be a number of years before normal travel levels and passenger numbers may resume."
Ms. Kane commended the Council for meeting both the deadline for submission and the audit for their accounts for year end March 31, 2021. She described this as a ‘significant achievement’.
“This brings it back into normal deadlines following a very difficult year. We are the only part of the UK that are doing this. Colleagues in other parts of the UK are not able to bring their deadlines back into a normal time frame yet," she said.
The Audit report noted that ‘Council’s usable reserves have increased from £39.7m at 31st March 2020 to £50.2m at 31st March 2021, an increase of £10.5m.’
Ms Kane commented: “It is important that Council has a clear plan to utilise these reserves in the future. We would say that an increase in reserves has been apparent in all councils this year.”
After Ms Kane’s report, Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue commented: 'It is certainly good to know we are ahead of the game when it comes to getting the work done.’
SDLP Martin Reilly agreed, saying: “It is good to hear we are leading by example, getting into the normal rhythm of reporting.”
Independent Audit Advisor, Mrs Brona Slevin echoed the sentiments, describing it as a ‘great achievement for the team getting an unqualified opinion within the deadline’ adding ‘it’s good to hear Council is in a good financial stable position at the moment.’
It is also proposed that by September 30, 2021, the Local Government Auditor will certify completion of the audit of accounts of the Council in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 and the Local Government Code of Audit Practice.