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Scarborough Council Accounts Sign-Off Saga Called 'Unacceptable'

Scarborough Council Accounts Sign-Off Saga Called 'Unacceptable'

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Carl Gavaghan at 11:45am 26th June 2020.

Answers are being demanded by Scarborough councillors on why they have not been able to sign off the authority’s accounts for almost five years.

During yesterday’s Audit Committee meeting, its chairman Cllr Andrew Backhouse called the situation “unacceptable” and challenged the authority’s external auditors to explain the repeated delays to councillors.

The council’s 2017/18, 2016/17 and 2015/16 accounts were held up as the authority is locked in a legal challenge with a group of residents over how it classifies income and expenditure from Whitby harbour.

Last year it was confirmed that the 2018/19 accounts had also been caught up in the row.

The challenge has come from the Fight4Whitby pressure group, which launched a legal challenge in 2016 citing the 1905 Whitby Urban District Council Act, which stated that income from Whitby harbour must be ring-fenced for use within the harbour.

The borough council’s external auditor, Mazars, told the council that a second provisional position has been issued in December, moving them one step closer to making a final decision. But no decision has since been forthcoming.

Speaking during yesterday’s Audit Committee meeting Cllr Backhouse said the situation had to be concluded.

He said:

“I find it completely unacceptable that this is rolling on and on and on and I would certainly suggest we put some immense pressure on Mazars to bring this to a head, bring this to our next meeting and let’s have a debate so we can sign off these accounts.

I have never heard anything like this in all the time I have been on this council. I know there is a sticking point and I know it needs some resolution but this needs sorting. It doesn’t look good.”

He said the committee needed to put right previous failings for not pushing the issue hard enough to get a resolution before now.

The council’s finance director Nick Edwards said the council’s officers had provided the auditors with all the information that had been requested.

Mazars will now be asked to appear in front of the Audit Committee at its next meeting to explain the delay.

Committee member Cllr David Chance spoke of his frustration at the situation.

He added:

“I was the first chair five years ago, who couldn’t sign the accounts off.

I was frustrated then but five years down the line it concerns me greatly. It seems every time that we seem near a resolution someone throws another spoke in the wheel.”

Scarborough Council has always denied the claims of the Fight 4 Whitby Group.

Comments

There are 2 comments on this page.

yorkshireboy, on 26th June 2020 2:13pm
Quite a joke really.

SBC moaning about delays from someone else.

Now SBC know what it feels like.

DO the words Futurist and Cinema ring any bells
zara, on 26th June 2020 6:07pm
so stop paying Mazars and see how quickly they will try to resolve the situation. Its all money to them.

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