LEDBURY Town Council has revealed further details about apparent problems found by the internal auditor when looking at the council's books.

Town Clerk, Angela Price says the internal auditor has experienced problems in finding authorisation for some of payments made in association with a judicial review, which the council lost.

She said: "The costs incurred by the council during the judicial review were committed to by members of the Standing Committee at the time. The internal auditor is not able to find evidence that the majority of these costs were authorised according to the requirements of the council’s governance framework.

"The council has resolved to commission a special audit to examine the matter in detail and to make recommendations as to actions to strengthen the Council’s governance to prevent a re-occurrence."

Mrs Price said the much-quoted figure for total costs, concerning the review, could actually be more than the £220,000 which has been mentioned in print.

She said it was "a conservative estimate" and she added "it is hoped that the special audit which has been commissioned will be able to confirm the full costs for the public record".

The internal auditor's problems with some payments appear to be, not with the total figure, but with the use of listed building reserves.

She said that an error "misstated" the council's 2017/18 revenue budget as being overdrawn by £55,000, because the use of the reserves had apparently not been set down. That matter has now been rectified.

But former town mayor and former town councillor, Bob Barnes, who was on the Standing Committee at the time of the judicial review, has questioned the figures being quoted by the town council.

He said: "The amounts quoted are 'gross' amounts; Ledbury Town Council is VAT registered, so can re-claim the VAT, the 'net' amounts are significantly different."

Payments were made to Cllr Liz Harvey's solicitors, after she took the town council to a judicial review and won.

Mr Barnes said: "The only payments that can be attributed to the Judicial Review, are the payments made to Winkworth Sherwood, the Town Council’s solicitors, and to Anthony Collins, Councillor Harvey’s solicitor, any other recorded payments should not be included with the judicial reviews costs.

"From the spreadsheet, with figures taken from the town councl website list of payments, you can see that in 2017/18, the town council paid out £104,239.26, Gross, £86,866.35, Net, to Winkworth Sherwood; £10,000 was budgeted, therefore £76,866.35 should have been transferred from the listed building reserve, as approved by council.

"From the 2018/19 budget a further, £6,337.68, gross, £5,281.40, Net, was paid to the TC’s solicitor, making a total payment of £92,147.95 Net, for the Town council’s costs."

He added: "Payments made to Anthony Collins, for Councillor Harvey’s cost’s, were, £96,261.66, Gross, £80,218.05, Net. As £10,000.00 was in the budget, the amount taken from other cost centre’s, would have been £75,499.45. This brings the total expenses paid to £172,366.00, Net, a slight difference to those quoted."

He said he could not comment as to why the use of reserves was not logged properly at the time.