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Critic hits out at Keighley Town Council finance 'madness'
8:00am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
A fierce critic of Keighley Town Council will ask an auditor to look at its finances after a vote to raise the council tax precept by 72 per cent.
The decision, made at a meeting of the full council last Thursday, has come under fire from Elizabeth Mitchell, a Keighley grandmother who describes the rise as unfair.
She is to contact an external auditor to request an investigation into how the council spends its money. And she has also accused the council of outsourcing work that should be done in Keighley.
Keighley Mayor George Metcalf responded by saying the complaint was part of “an intense campaign” to discredit the council.
The precept rise means the town council’s annual charge on band B properties will rise from £18.90 to £32.62, equivalent to an extra 26 pence per week. Bradford Council will decide on the base level of council tax at its budget meeting next Thursday.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins has already labelled the rise “outrageous” and urged the town council to reverse its decision.
Mrs Mitchell said: “This massive rise is just so unfair on Keighley families that are already struggling to buy food and pay their bills.
“I have raised my concerns with the mayor about the council’s spending, and asked all councillors to look at whether they acted lawfully in some of their dealings.”
She says the council has overspent on the town’s civic centre, which is making a loss, and criticises the £3,000 spent on Christmas lights for the building. She also points out that the council’s quarterly magazine is published in Milton Keynes, and benches in the town hall square were bought in Scotland.
Mrs Mitchell said: “Why, in these austere times, has the town council continued to spend, spend, spend? I will do all in my power to stop the madness.”
In response Coun Metcalf said: “We are aware that an orchestrated and intense campaign, which has included a good deal of misinformation, is being conducted against the democratically elected members of Keighley Town Council.
“The council always endeavours to conform to the principles of best value when purchasing goods and equipment.”