Police probe Hunts council finances

POLICE investigating complaints of fraud at a Huntingdonshire parish council have arrested a former clerk.

And Huntingdonshire District Council says it has also received a complaint.

According to agenda papers, members of Upwood and The Raveleys Parish Council met in a closed session on Thursday, April 28 “to discuss and agree the actions to be taken following the findings of an internal audit carried out by Councillor Howe and the subsequent resignation of the parish clerk Jane Haggar”.

Cllr Robin Howe, whose day job is in the financial services sector and who is no longer a member of the parish council, was, however, elected on May 5 to serve the parish on Huntingdonshire District Council. He declined to comment on the matter.

Ms Haggar, who is understood to live in Malthouse Lane, Ramsey, has been replaced for the time being, as acting clerk, by Denise Benham, who lives in King’s Ripton and is permanent clerk to Abbots Ripton Parish Council. She is this week referring all inquiries in the matter to Cambridgeshire police.

A police spokesman confirmed to The Hunts Post: “We are investigating alleged financial irregularities at Upwood and The Raveleys Parish Council.

“A 48-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position and has been released on bail to return to Huntingdon police station on May 26.”

Most Read

HDC’s auditors are also said to have been brought in to investigate.

Parish councillors were unwilling to discuss the matter, although sources have suggested the discrepancies raised questions over transactions involving several thousand pounds.

At the annual parish meeting earlier this month, following the reduction in the size of the parish council from 11 to nine as a result of rationalisation, former chairman David Paine was not nominated to continue in the role.

Beyond confirming that he had been a signatory to parish council cheques, Mr Paine declined to comment.

The new chairman is Jo Paxton, who provides mental health services to prisons.

Huntingdonshire District Council confirmed that a complaint had been received about the conduct of a member of Upwood and The Raveleys Parish Council but could not disclose details.

HDC has no role in monitoring parish clerks.