AN INTERNAL audit failed to address key issues including concerns about lack of transparency in the council decision-making process, according to the councillor who called for it.

Conservative Lee Wares asked for auditors to look into the way decisions were made about the £8 million revamp of the road layout from Old Steine, Brighton, to the Palace Pier.

The project, known as Valley Gardens Phase 3, has been dogged by opposition, with the plan to replace the Aquarium roundabout with traffic lights among the controversial aspects of the scheme.

City councillor Wares said he had no criticism of the auditors’ professionalism but felt they had been constrained.

The report, which followed a “desktop audit”, found “appropriate decision-making processes had been followed” by Brighton and Hove City Council.

But the report added: “The matters raised in this report are only those which came to our attention during our internal audit work and are not necessarily a comprehensive statement of all the weaknesses that exist or of all the improvements that may be required.”

Cllr Wares was concerned crucial information was withheld from councillors before they made key decisions about the Valley Gardens scheme.

He also said: “The audit report fails to address the concerns I raised regarding not just the failure of the council to conduct a full environmental impact assessment but that the council has not conducted any traffic or environmental impact studies on the changes to the preferred option that includes a fifth southbound bus lane and (changes to) Dukes Mound.

“The audit report does confirm that traffic modelling has not been included for Dukes Mound but subsequently suggests that it has been considered.

“The audit report also claims that traffic modelling has been considered post-consultation although at the environment, transport and sustainability committee officers confirmed that they did not know how traffic would move or be displaced.

“This is contrary to the audit report that says the council’s consultants did include displaced traffic.”

The audit findings were due to be reported to the council’s audit and standards committee at a meeting at Hove Town Hall yesterday.

Two public questions were included in the agenda, both relating to the rigour of the investigation.

One, from Rob Shepherd, said: “Valley Gardens Phase 3 falls far short of the benefits-to-costs ratio threshold needed to secure public funds but, by erroneously inflating benefits more than 100 per cent, secured substantial funds.”

The other, from Daniel Nathan, said that he was “disappointed” with the audit report, saying that it lacked “extensive rigour”.

Mr Nathan, a founding member of the Valley Gardens Forum campaign group, said: “Given that this document has taken six months to produce, I’m puzzled that there is so little supporting data.

“Would the chair confirm this committee will require the internal audit team to remedy this situation by producing an appendix containing the evidence they used to make each assertion?”