July 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, May 17, 2014
A parish council has had to stump up more than £5,000 after its accounts were queried for three years running – a cost which will be borne by people living in the village.
The latest objection to the accounts was made during Litcham Parish Council’s monthly meeting in April. It was the third year in a row that the same villager had questioned the accounts, forcing the parish council to have its paperwork checked by the external auditor.
The auditor’s findings have now been returned, establishing for the third time that the council has not made any payments that were contrary to law.
He also did not find that any councillor should have declared a pecuniary interest when being reimbursed for expenditure incurred on behalf of the parish council for the Diamond Jubilee event.
The investigations have cost the council £1,650 for the financial year ending March 2011, £1,750 for the year ending March 2012 and £1,605 for 2013, totalling £5,005.
Together with funding cuts and rising costs, the financial dent meant the council had to increase its precept by 50pc in the last financial year and again for this year.
Chairman Mike Oldfield said there was a “vexatiousness” about it.
“It’s the way the law is and it’s become silly because they are complaints but with no substance to them.
“There’s nothing we can do and if I were a parishioner in Litcham, I would be annoyed and frustrated by the cost borne because of one party,” said Mr Oldfield, who has been the chairman on all three occasions the complaints have been made.
District and county councillor for the village Mark Kiddle-Morris added: “It’s a statutory right for anybody to query the accounts and, when they do, it’s an expense on the parish council.
“Unfortunately, this has been going on for a long time. The complaint that was made has been investigated and it was of no substance.
“The council had to put up its precept which is a great shame. If it carries on, there is nothing we can do about it.”
The parish council is unable to disclose the name of the person who made the complaint, leading to members of the public to call for the objector to come forward.
John Palmer-Wright, who lives in nearby Beeston, said: “He has got to be flushed out. The council should be able to say, ‘Everything is in order, on your bike and we will fine you for wasting time and money.’”
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