People objecting to the way Keighley Town Council is being run have been interviewed by external auditors from a London-based firm.
A team from chartered accountancy company PKF Littlejohn spent several hours on Friday quizzing parishioners in the town council-run Keighley Civic Centre in North Street.
Town clerk Miggy Bailey confirmed the auditors had visited. “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,” she said. “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 visit Keighley, said: “I spent about five hours with them, and was impressed at their professionalism and have no doubts 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.”
The auditors wrote to the objectors late last year, 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.
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 when contacted by the Keighley News this week. Keighley Mayor Coun Sally Walker,has previously pledged the council would co-operate with the auditors’ enquiries.
However, at last Thursday’s 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 his committee’s work was not the subject of any of the objections.
“I was told they wanted to see our minutes because some of the objections are so wide-ranging it’s difficult for the auditors to home in on specific documentation,” he said.