Parish Council told to set aside funds to cover cost of future elections

The Parish Council should set aside funds to cover election costs, according to an external report into the council’s accounts. 

Transparency

Parish councillors have been told that they must budget for elections, in a development which may finally draw a line under Cheema-gate.

Clerk Katy Jones updated councillors on the key findings in the report by the Internal Auditor relating to the end of year accounts and annual return.

The audit, carried out by Mazars LLP audit and accounting firm, based in County Durham, made it clear that the Parish Council needs to budget for future elections and by-elections going forward.  Last year’s by-election saw the Parish hit with a £6.607.90 bill which was partly funded by cost-cutting but also saw the Parish dip into its reserves. The by-election was caused when the Cllr Avtar Cheema and daughter Jaspreet failed to take up their seats on Colnbrook Parish Council and became one of the most discussed topics at Parish Council meetings last year as councillors demanded to be reimbursed.

Mazars drew councillors’ attention to five shortcomings in total:

  • The Parish needs to identify specifically what its Reserves are for.
  • That the Parish should set aside an Earmarked Reserve for future election costs.
  • The the Parish should review the SLA clerking agreement to ensure value for money.
  • That the Parish should consider competitive quotes for grounds maintenance.
  • That the £1,500 Chairman’s Allowance should be supported by VAT receipts.

Following discussion councillors agreed to note the comments, and approve both the Accounting Statements and Annual Return.

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