South East Wales

Probe over valleys council's '10-year mismanagement'

Llanhilleth Image copyright Phil White/Geograph

Allegations of mismanagement at a valleys community council stretching back more than 10 years are being investigated.

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) is looking into Abertillery and Llanhilleth Community Council in Blaenau Gwent.

It includes member behaviour, inappropriate exclusion of the public from meetings and financial management.

Many of the necessary improvements were already in place or being progressed, a council report said.

A WAO spokeswoman said during an audit of the council's 2014-15 accounts "a number of matters of concern were identified and some of these have been referred to the police".

She said a report on this audit would be made in due course.

WAO assistant auditor general Anthony Barrett and audit manager David Rees took the "highly unusual step" of attending an extraordinary meeting of the council in December to inform them of the investigation, the report said.

The issues were brought to their attention by councillors and members of the public and were "wide ranging and very long-standing".

These include:

  • Lack of clear council strategy and lack of leadership from members
  • Lack of transparency in decision making
  • Failure to achieve value for money in procurements
  • Data protection issues, which included councillors providing members of the public with exempt and personal information
  • Poor financial management and record keeping
  • Poor member behaviour
  • Inappropriate exclusion of the public from meetings

Mr Barrett said there had been a weakness in governance at the council which "had not been fit for purpose for a long period of time" with allegations dating back "well over a decade".

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