Investigation set into Keighley Town Council accounts

Objections to Keighley Town Council’s 2012-13 accounts will be investigated, according to an auditors’ letter seen by the Keighley News.

Two of the people objecting confirmed they have received letters from the council’s external auditor – London-based firm PKF Littlejohn.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment when contacted by the Keighley News.

However, one of the auditors’ letters sent to an objector states: “We have received notices of objection from eight persons relating to a total of 21 matters.

“We are committed to determining the objections and considering the other information received as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The same letter explains auditors will be “requesting documentation and explanations from the council”.

Concerns brought to the auditors’ attention include allegations of errors in financial procedures, non-disclosure of information to members of the public and financial failure of the Civic Centre project.

Among objectors is Councillor Brian Hudson. “I’ve spoken to several other councillors, who said it was about time this happened,” he said.

“The council can’t go on down the same road for much longer. The dam is cracked and it’s beginning to burst – the spending has to stop.”

Keighley Mayor Councillor Sally Walker said the town council would not be commenting, and would not disclose any communications it has with its auditors.

Coun Walker last month warned Keighley ratepayers to expect a “severe impact” on the council’s planned council tax precept for 2014/15 due to issues over which it has “absolutely no control”.

She said the council, which agreed a controversial 72.6 hike in its precept for its 2013-14 budget, now faces additional losses of up to £73,541 due to Government changes to the council tax base and the behaviour of parishioners’ campaign group, Cavetown Council.

However, Cavetown member Elizabeth Mitchell, who is also objecting to the 2012-13 accounts, said it is not just Cavetown that is unhappy with the council’s financial management.

“In view of the imminent investigation, I’ve asked the council to consider postponing any precept rise until the outcome is known,” she said.

“I ask this on the basis Keighley town councillors cannot accurately forecast the budget for the year 2014-15, which ultimately determines the precept, until they can assure themselves and the electorate the figures in the accounts for the previous year are in fact correct.”

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