Auditors quiz objectors over Keighley Town Council spending

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Keighley town clerk Miggy Bailey Keighley town clerk Miggy Bailey

External auditors from a London-based accountancy firm have quizzed members of the public who object to the way Keighley Town Council is being run.

A team from chartered accountancy company PKF Littlejohn spent several hours questioning parishioners in the town council-run Keighley Civic Centre, in North Street.

Town clerk Miggy Bailey confirmed the auditors had visited.

She said: “They came in and held individual interviews with each of the objectors, but at that point they did not want to speak to council members or council officers. I don’t know if they’ll be coming back.”

Ingrow resident Elizabeth Mitchell, one of the people whose objections to the council’s 2012-13 accounts prompted the auditors to come to Keighley, said: “I met with the Government-appointed auditors, as did a number of others who had raised concerns about the finances of Keighley Town Council.

“I spent around five hours with them, and was impressed at their professionalism and have no doubts that their ongoing investigation will be very thorough.

“I’ve no idea when the investigation will be completed, but feel an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders, having had the opportunity to speak to them face to face.”

Late last year the auditors wrote to the objectors, outlining details of their probe and informing them of their intention to carry out interviews to gather information about the council’s 2012/13 spending.

The accountants are dealing with complaints relating to five areas of council affairs. These include the basis for determining the precept, alleged unlawful grants/loans in respect of a Police Experience attraction at the civic centre, alleged omissions from the council’s asset register, alleged unlawful trading concerning the civic centre and alleged non-compliance with financial regulations relating to the payments for goods, services and cash takings.

A PKF Littlejohn spokesman declined to comment.

The town council’s mayor, Coun Sally Walker, has previously pledged that the council would co-operate with the auditors’ inquiries.

However, at the latest full meeting of the town council, watch and transport committee chairman Coun Graham Mitchell said he was disturbed by the auditors’ request to see watch and transport minutes.

He pointed out that his committee’s work was not the subject of any of the objections.

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