Keighley Council at centre of probe into accounts and money

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A YORKSHIRE town council is facing an investigation by external auditors into a catalogue of serious allegations involving finances and other matters.

Eight people have raised 21 matters relating to the accounts of Keighley Town Council, prompting a probe by auditors PKF Littlejohn.

Town councillors are among the complainants.

Objectors have been told they will be interviewed by auditors in February and March.

The complaints, which have yet to be substantiated, are included in a letter from the auditors to those objecting to the accounts under the Audit Commission Act.

The claims include:

• Alleged unlawful grants/loans in respect of the Police Experience, a museum in the town which the council helped establish.

• Non-compliance with financial regulations regarding payments for goods and services and cash takings.

• Failing to include council assets on the authority’s register.

The letter from the auditor states that the next steps will involve obtaining relevant documents and explanations from the council and then sharing these with objectors.

The auditor plans to make a decision on the objections before April 30. It can then issue a report in the public interest and/or make an application to the courts that an item of account is contrary to the law.

The audit bill will fall on the council and is likely to be costly.

One of the objectors is Elizabeth Mitchell, who has a background in accountancy and has spent many months looking at the authority’s accounts, minutes and reports.

She lodged an objection to the accounts in June, saying she did so because there was no other body to complain to.

Yesterday Keighley Mayor Councillor Sally Walker said that, as far as she was aware, the council’s books were “in order”, adding: “We are all honest people doing the best for our communities.”

She said complaints that implied the council was “cooking the books” were “very offensive.”