MEMBERS of Keighley Town Council had strong words for the chairman of their council's finance and audit committee following criticisms he voiced about the council's financial policies.

Councillor Javaid Akhtar was attacked for speaking to the press about the outcome of an internal audit into the town council before the council had the chance to debate the audit first.

Part of the audit had advised the town council not to accumulate too much reserve cash.

The audit did note that the council has introduced procedures which are effectively managing any risks, and it identified no weaknesses in the council's internal financial controls.

But as reported in last week's Keighley News, Cllr Akhtar warned that the town council was "haemorrhaging" taxpayers' money.

He also said it needed to cut its budget, said some councillors had "not bothered" to attend a committee meeting to monitor the council's £100,000 Community Development Fund and accused the council of running its civic centre in North Street at a loss.

Cllr Akhtar said he believed that the civic centre needed to be sold.

However, at last Thursday's (Nov 30) full town council meeting, which Cllr Akhtar was not present at, several councillors spoke out against his earlier comments.

Cllr Peter Corkindale said: "They are an absolute disgrace and they bring this council into disrepute. We've not even had any opportunity to discuss this audit yet.

"And we don't even know if Bradford Council will give us the Council Tax Support Grant. If not, that would be over £100,000 gone in the blink of an eye."

Cllr Michael Westerman said: "It really is something when we should have to read this report in the press first before we've had a chance to discuss it ourselves.

"I don't understand how we can be 'haemorrhaging' money but at the same time be told we've got too much money. From what I can see we've actually had a good internal audit."

Cllr John Kirby said he wished Cllr Akhtar was present at the meeting, adding that if he had attended he would have asked him to explain the comments he made to the press.

He said that if Cllr Akhtar would not explain these comments he would then ask him to stand down as committee chairman.

Cllr Shazad Mahmood supported what his colleagues had said, adding: "The chairman of our finance and audit committee is aware that we've been working very hard to try and find the right solution for the civic centre, which is not as simple as he says it is."

Members of the council agreed to implement the recommendations put forward by their latest internal audit.

Speaking to the Keighley News this week, Councillor Akhtar accepted he was not at the council meeting last Thursday where he came under fire.

He responded: “Councillors should have been expending their energies focussing on the task at hand and look at ways the council can address the very important issue raised by our audit report, instead of blaming the chair of finance committee for giving his view to the press after being approached for one.

“The matter was first brought up at our committee meeting and if all committee members had attended then maybe they would have been aware of it prior to full council meeting.

“At no point was this an attempt to bring council into disrepute or blame any individual councillor.

“As the chair I am perfectly within my right to speak about financially-related matters

which have a bearing not only on the finances of the council but also on the town

precept payers at a time of austerity.

“We have a responsibility and obligation to our precept payers and to ask for only the money which this council requires to provide and run whatever necessary for the betterment of our town and its people.

“I am disappointed that some councillors have seen my comments as an attack

or criticism of the council when they were merely a response to a question I was asked.”

“There are far bigger issues at this moment in time for us to concentrate on like

attempting to take on services from our hauthority which are being reduced or

finished due to cutbacks, setting the budget for the year ahead, and making sure that

the council continues to be transparent, accountable and above all doing things