Council is accused of ‘arrogance’

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HOLBEACH Parish Council has been accused of “arrogance” in its response to questions over paying almost £1,200 to a private investigation firm.

Former vice-chairman Graham Warrender said the council had a responsibility to give Holbeach council tax payers full details about a £1,185 payment to Nottingham-based Morcliff Securities in March 2012.

Members of the council’s finance committee met on August 6 to investigate whether the payment related to claims that the council offices at Coubro Chambers were bugged after details of a private meeting in January 2012 were made public by someone not at the meeting.

It was confirmed at a full council meeting in Holbeach St Marks last week that no evidence of bugging had been found, nor wrongdoing in how the payment to Morcliff Securities was authorised.

A council statement after the investigation said: “The payment in question was made for work carried out under the direction of two former members of Holbeach Parish Council.

“The work was in relation to security measures.

“No evidence of ‘bugging’ or breach of security of the parish council offices was found.

“This is our final statement on this issue.

“We will not be answering any further questions on this matter.”

Questions about the payment originally emerged at July’s council meeting where chairman Peter Savory said concerns had also been raised by the council’s internal auditor.

Mr Warrender, one of nine former councillors who resigned in March 2012, said: “The original question (about the payment to Morcliff Securities) was raised by a member of the public who has every right to expect an explanation after noting the entry in the account books for the past financial year.

“I am appalled at the arrogance displayed in this rather pathetic reply.

“It is true that the initial request was made by two former councillors, but it must be understood that the clerk would have been involved and later the chair of finance.

“This would eventually include any councillors who were cheque signatories as the account invoice was progressed for payment.

“So whilst it could be a sensitive subject, it would not have been down to just two councillors who have now left.”