Maghull Town Council – Reported to the Secretary of State and auditors over precept misinformation

So we return to the strange goings on within Labour run Maghull Town Council where it seems that nothing is as it seems.

The first thing to say is that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has been informed about the Council telling Sefton Council that it had set a precept demand for 2013/14 when it had done no such thing. The Council’s internal and external auditors have also been alerted.

Let’s rehearse the facts as we presently know them to be:-

* All Parish and Town Councils usually set their budgets for the following municipal year in January.

* We are now into March and Maghull Council’s present timetable it will not agree a budget and precept demand from the Town’s Council tax payers until a Full Council meeting on 20th March!

* The next 4 paragraphs are what Sefton’s Head of Finance has said to all members of Sefton Council following the concerns I raised at its Budget meeting last Thursday. She says:-

“At the meeting of Council last evening, the Council agreed the Council Tax for 2013/14. During the Council debate on this item, I was asked to provide details of correspondence with regard to the Council Tax precept for Maghull Town Council.

I can confirm that all Parish Councils were notified in writing to provide Sefton Council with their precept by 14th February to allow Sefton Council to include this in the Council Tax report and to prepare the billing for 2013/14 Tax collection.

Following the setting of the Sefton Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the Council Tax base, individualised e-mails were sent out to Parish Councils by the 8th February to provide more detailed briefing on the Parish tax base.

On 18th February an e-mail confirming that the Maghull Town Council’s precept for inclusion in the Sefton Council report was received. This figure has been used in the calculations presented to Council on 28th February.”

* So now we know that it took Maghull TC until 18th February, four days late, to provide information in writing that it had set a precept demand. However, it had actually done no such thing. Surely, it is blindingly obvious that if Maghull Council had not held a budget meeting (which it had not) and therefore had not settled a budget and precept it should not be asking Sefton Council to collect a precept. So why was Sefton Council contacted and given a precept figure that did not exist?

Labour run Maghull Town Council had an opportunity last night to explain why the deadline given to it by Sefton Council was ignored and why false information was provided to Sefton Council. It was a meeting of Town Council’s Finance Committee and the budget was finally on an agenda. This is what happened:-

Well, having raised my concerns all that came back from Labour was nonsense. They said the Council had agreed a precept and that it was in the minutes. No it has not and no, there is no minute that says it has. They then claimed that there was some form of an agreement on a ‘direction of travel’, whatever that may mean. They even suggested that I take my concerns up with the auditor but that the Council simply note them.

So Maghull Town Council has still not set a budget or agreed a precept to notify to Sefton Council and as predicted none of this will happen until 20th March!

So the big question now is what will appear on Maghull Council Tax payer’s bills in terms of the additional amount they pay to their muddled Town Council? Will it be the pretend figure that was falsely reported to Sefton Council but does not exist or NIL which is the only honest figure at present?

Frankly, last night’s Maghull Council meeting was akin to what a parallel universe experience must feel like!

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