Theft probe at Keighley council focuses on cafe money

Keighley Town Hall
Keighley Town Hall
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POLICE have begun an investigation into the suspected theft of takings from a struggling civic centre run by a troubled Yorkshire council.

Officers were called in by Keighley Town Council in January when it was discovered that takings could be missing for and till readings were incomplete.

Earlier this month officers questioned two men, aged 24 and 37.

Sergeant Diane Collins, of Keighley police, said: “Police at Keighley can confirm they have received a complaint of theft.

“Two men, aged 24 and 37 have been spoken to and enquiries are continuing.”

It is understood that concerns about incomplete audit trails have been an issue for several months.

Neither the police nor the council would provide details of what monies are missing, However, council documents contain details of “four days takings down” at the civic centre cafe for December.

And an internal audit in November highlighted poor practices relating to cash handling, including the failure to put cafe and bar takings in the bank on a regular basis.

The report said: “At the time of our audit the last five weeks of bar income and four weeks of cafe income was held in the catering safe. So this income had yet to be deposited in the main safe and therefore had not been banked.”

The audit noted that takings were not being stored separately for each day in the safe, which meant any discrepancies could not be attributed to a particular day.

The report added: “Daily cashing up sheets were not being used. Therefore there are currently no records of differences to the till readings or the action taken to investigate those differences. Cashing up is not taking place on a daily basis or after each event in the bar.”

Auditors said that access to the main safe ought to be limited but they were unable to find out how many people actually had access to it.

The police investigation comes amid fresh turmoil for the town council and its loss-making civic centre.

Last week councillors were told by town clerk Tom Ferry that they would have to reconsider a decision to continue trading at the civic centre.

He said it was not clear whether the council had the legal powers to do business and it was unlikely to be able to convince the external auditor that it did.

A separate investigation by West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit is continuing. It was prompted by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins who wrote to police after a damning audit report.