A town councillor who drew up a business plan for loss-making Keighley Civic Centre has criticised proposals to spend thousands of pounds on a consultant to review the document.
Councillor Peter Corkindale, chairman of the civic centre committee, argued the cash would be better spent elsewhere.
But Coun Gary Pedley, vice-chairman of the council’s finance and audit committee, responded: “Councillor Corkindale did produce a business plan, but there are some gross inaccuracies in terms of income generated from the [civic centre] cafe.
“We thought that bringing in a business consultant with a business mind would enable us to get a better idea of how we could reduce the burden on the taxpayer over the coming years.”
Coun Corkindale said he had been asked to produce the business plan about six months ago, to help ensure the town council-run premises could be a viable venture.
As of May 2013, the civic centre was £162,000 in the red, which had prompted a record 72.6 per cent hike in the council tax precept to cover the bill.
The town council’s 2012-13 accounts are currently subject to an investigation by London-based accountancy firm PKF Littlejohn.
Commenting at last Thursday’s town council meeting, he said: “I notice we are securing the services of a business consultant to look at the business plan – this is going to cost us £7,500 for something I did free of charge.”
He pointed out that 12 months ago, the civic centre committee had been tasked with generating £37,000 from the North Street-based centre for the coming civic year. He noted that with only a month to go, he and his colleagues were just £1,400 short of this target.
“Why has the finance committee taken it upon themselves to do this without one word of consultation with either myself or members of my committee?” he asked.
Coun Pedley said he understood the civic centre committee had been made aware of the finance and audit committee’s intention to bring in a consultant.
He added that the £7,500 to pay the consultant mentioned by Coun Corkindale was just one quote, which had not yet been accepted.
Coun Graham Mitchell successfully recommended the chairmen of the civic centre and finance and audit committees meet with each other to discuss the issue before reporting back to the full council.