'Account for every penny' - Guildford CEO wants to 'draw a line' under fraud investigation

The new Chief Executive for Guildford Borough Council (GBC) said he wants no financial “surprises” and to “draw a line under” the fraud investigation.
New CEO Pedro Wrobel (image GBC)New CEO Pedro Wrobel (image GBC)
New CEO Pedro Wrobel (image GBC)

A fraud investigation into GBC’s housing department was launched in November 2023 after allegations in housing repair contracts for work on council properties. The Regional Organised Crime Unit has so far arrested one man and issued several warrants in the ongoing investigation.

Pedro Wrobel, who has a background as an economist and a civil servant, said he wants to “account for every penny”, understand what went wrong and ensure the council deals with it.

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“An issue like that can’t happen without there being plain management failings,” Pedro said. “There should be systems in place to prevent it and from getting to that size”

The fraud investigation in the housing maintenance repairs service was escalated to the regional organised crime unit due to the “size and complexity” of the issue.

While the police enquiries are ongoing, an internal investigation has also been probing the housing department. Pedro said he is wanting everything to be brought to a “swift conclusion” and “draw a line” under the investigation.

Working on corporate management and financial governance, the new CEO is hoping to bring forward his Improvement Plan for June 2024.

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Stressing that the council’s administration takes the fraud investigation “seriously”, Pedro said GBC will learn from what has gone wrong and “put it right”. He said he wants to put the council in a petition showing how every pound given by the taxpayer is being used.

Wodeplace House residents, who are living with unfinished repairs in the council-owned property, invited the new CEO to visit and see the impact of the fraud investigation. Pedro agreed to the invite, stating: “If you forget about the people at the heart of everything, you’re going to get the wrong answer.”

Admitting there is “work to do” on GBC’s reputation, Pedro said there is the “essence of a good council” and hopes the “issues don’t overshadow the good work the council has done”.

Joining GBC six weeks earlier than expected, Pedro will start his full role as joint-CEO with Waverley on April 6.

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