Twenty nine of England's parish councils have failed to meet their responsibilities because they have not reported how they have used and protected taxpayers' money. That is the verdict of the District Auditor in an unprecedented number of public interest reports published simultaneously this December 2011.
The Parish Councils are in:
- Cheshire - Beeston, Ollerton with Marthall, Siddington.
- Cornwall - Altarnum, Davidstow; Michaelstow, Warbstow.
- Derbyshire - Alkmonton and Hungry Bentley, Ballidon and Bradbourne.
- Devon - Ashreigny, Clyst Hydon, East Anstey, Mamhead, Shaugh Prior, Stoke Rivers, Templeton, Washfield.
- Kent - Manston, Molash, Sellindge.
- Lincolnshire -Cadney cum Howsham.
- Staffordshire - Ramshorn,Wiggington and Hopwas.
- Yorkshire - Atwick, Bewholme, Bishop Burton, Burton Pidsea, Skipsea, Welton.
The reports say that the councils have 'failed in an important statutory duty' by not producing an annual return for the financial year to 31 March 2011. More importantly, they 'failed to account to council taxpayers for the use and safeguarding of their money'.
District Auditor Jackie Bellard said:
'People in these parishes have the right to know how their local taxes have been used by their councils. Despite my repeated requests, these councils have failed to submit their annual returns. This should not happen again.'
The annual return:
- summarises the Council's financial performance;
- gives assurances that the Council has a robust system of internal control in place to protect public funds; and
- reports the work of the internal auditor employed to check that the systems of internal control work.
The reports must be considered by the councils in public within a month, when the councils must decide what action to take in response to the recommendations.
Source: Audit Commission