A YORKSHIRE COUNCIL is being probed by police following a damning audit report.
PKF Littlejohn discovered that Keighley Town Council may have taken “unlawful actions” and acted “without consideration of its legal powers” – prompting West Yorkshire’s chief constable to compel investigators from its Economic Crime Unit to begin a probe.
Among the auditor’s litany of concerns were that there may have been “significant non-compliance with financial consequences” over the council’s decision to build a new civic centre and that it may have acted illegally by trading via the centre’s museum shop.
The audit found that the council had “entered into the Civic Centre project, which was a significant financial commitment, without an adequate business plan” and that the plan was “inadequate in identifying and addressing the risks and overall financial viability”.
It slammed the lack of consideration given to the employment status of consultants employed by the council and the potential impact that could have on it should HMRC query the arrangements.
The report also blasted the lack of formal tenancy agreements for tenants at the Civic Centre, which left the council “exposed to financial risks” and said its standards of governance fell short of expectations.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins called on the police to investigate.
Hopkins said: “I have been a long-standing critic of Keighley Town Council and, alongside a number of tireless and committed local residents, have raised countless concerns about its reckless and arrogant approach to spending public money. This report confirms in graphic detail that our fears were well-founded.
“It is a catalogue of disaster and those responsible for what has happened – they know who they are – must immediately consider their positions.
“The fiasco surrounding the civic centre and the absence of a proper business plan to guide its operation was bad enough. And now we have host of new charges including a failure to keep a record of cash receipts, making unauthorised payments and failing to properly monitor financial transactions to relatives of councillors and employees.”
In response to the MP, West Yorkshire Police’s temporary chief constable Dee Collins said: “Once this review and assessment is completed, we will be in a stronger position to understand if any criminal offences have taken place within the town council.”
Keighley Town Council refused to comment.
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