Councillors call in auditor to carry out “forensic examination” of accounts

The Priory Centre, St Neots,

The Priory Centre, St Neots, - Credit: Archant

Councillors have called for a “forensic examination” of St Neots Town Council’s final accounts for 2014-15 after “discrepancies” in the figures were discovered.

The matter was raised at an Extra Ordinary meeting at the Priory Centre on April 20, which had been called to address a list of issues, including claims that the council has become “secretive, unaccountable, and undemocratic.

The meeting heard that the draft accounts for the previous financial year were approved at a full town council meeting in June 2015, after two resolutions were passed to agree amendments. Cllr Roger Harrison told the meeting that he and other councillors had since studied the figures and discovered inconsistencies between what had been agreed at that meeting and the final published accounts.

There is no suggestion of any wrong-doing, but any changes to the draft document should have been put before the full town council for approval, so it was decided to bring in an independent auditor to check the figures.

“All manner of questions need to be answered as there are dozens of discrepancies – some of these numbers just do not make sense,” said Cllr Harrison. “We need an independent auditor to carry out a full forensic examination of the accounts and then report back to council.”

Cllr Derek Giles added: “We can’t brush this under the carpet, we need continuity of the accounts.”

Of the 14 councillors present at the meeting, 13 voted to pass a motion to call in an external auditor, with one councillor abstaining.

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Earlier and in response to a list of questions, by nine councillors, chairman of the council, James Corley, told the meeting that rumours that a councillor “felt under pressure to vote a certain way” had been investigated and he had “drawn a line under it”. He also told the chamber: “The scale of bullying and intimidation towards council staff had reached unacceptable levels.”