Gainsborough council criticised for 'unrealistic' budget

A failure in financial management in a Lincolnshire town led to "unrealistic" budgets, according to a leaked audit.

The report said problems at Gainsborough Town Council prior to 2012 resulted in "poor financial processes across all areas" of the council.

The report said the town had run up a £100,000 deficit at the time of the audit in 2012.

But town clerk Matthew Gleadell said "huge strides" had been made to improve town finances since then.

The audit, carried out by an organisation called Audit Lincolnshire, also revealed the town's reserves had shrunk from £72,000 in 2008 to £9,000 by 2012.

'Poor decisions'

The report said: "We found the quality of the advice and information provided to members was often not good enough for sound decision making.

"This has resulted in poor decisions being made, affecting the council's ability to operate within its approved budget."

Former mayor Tim Davies said: "You listen to the [council] officers' advice … and as far we were concerned - and the other 16 councillors on Gainsborough Town Council - things were fine.

"We were just normal everyday people just doing what we thought was a good job. Now we think, 'how did we not see this?'"

Gainsborough, which has a population of 18,000, had an annual budget of £535,000 but a deficit of more than £100,000.

The audit also said financial reports were "misleading" and the council had poor computer security and inadequate payroll and training systems.

The council also failed to use proper purchase orders and filing systems and had failed to file its accounts on time.

Mr Gleadell said he realised when he arrived in 2013 that it would take "two or three years of solid work" to get the council back on track.

The former council clerk Paul Leader has not yet commented on the leaked report.

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