IN April 2011, a report commissioned by the short-lived Tory administration landed on the desk of Reading Borough Council’s chief executive.

The report, “Reading Borough Council - Section 106 Agreements” , was written by Wokingham Borough Council officers who had scrutinised payments from developers, where the money was spent and how they were tracked on the accounting system.

The document noted that although there was “no evidence of undue political influence, fraudulent activity or corruption in the S106 process... it is apparent that certain control weaknesses existed”.

The report went on: “It is difficult to categorically state that officers or Members in positions of power have not abused their position.”

The report recommended that more robust systems of control were implemented and that the Section 106 audit trail became more open and transparent.

That was more than four years ago, and the Council did implement a more robust system of control. However, since the move to the new Civic Offices, and the Council’s drive towards a paperless office, insiders suggest the new accounting system has gone by the wayside, and accounting for developers’ money has once again become “lackadaisical”.

Some observers will say that, at a time when funding from Westminster is being savagely cut, what does it matter where the money comes from to plug holes in projects like Reading Station? But the fact is, Section 106 money is supposed to mitigate the effects of development for the local community, not make up shortfalls on big ticket developments.

If one small developer managed to get back £22,000 with interest, how many other developers are there out there who don’t have the time to investigate?

Whatever the answer, it’s the public who are missing out.