Councillors to be investigated over internet expenses claim

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An internal investigation has been launched by Scarborough Council over allegations that 10 senior councillors have claimed two allowances for internet usage.

The authority’s monitoring officer is investigating a complaint made against 10 of the 12 borough councillors that also sit on North Yorkshire County Council.

Members of the county council were last year awarded a basic allowance of £8,994.

Part of this money was expected to go towards covering the cost of setting up and running an active internet connection in order for them to fulfil their council duties.

However, according to public figures listed on Scarborough Council’s website, the councillors at the centre of these allegations also claimed upwards of £255 last year in expenses for an internet connection.

The councillors named in the investigation are Cllr Bill Chatt, Cllr Mike Cockerill, Cllr David Jeffells, Cllr Andrew Backhouse, Cllr Penny Marsden, Cllr Brian Simpson, Cllr Janet Jefferson, Cllr John Blackburn, Cllr Peter Popple and Cllr Joe Plant.

The only county councillorS who didn’t claim an internet allowance from the borough council last year were Cllr Patricia Marsberg of Falsgrave ward, and Whitby ward representative Cllr Jane Kenyon.

The complaint was referred to the monitoring officer at a recent council standards meeting.

The Scarborough News attempted to speak to three of the councillors at the centre of the allegations, Cllr Simpson, Cllr Cockerill and Cllr Marsden.

However, all three redirected our enquiries on to the respective legal departments of the county and borough council.

And after being contacted by The Scarborough News, North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council issued a joint statement.

It reads: “The matter is being investigated jointly by both Scarborough Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council and it would not be appropriate to comment while this is ongoing.”

Prior to 2009, county councillors received a separate allowance for IT, just like Scarborough Council currently has in place.

However, it was then folded into the basic allowance.

All borough councillors receive a basic allowance of £3,837,96, exclusive of the internet, to help them carry out their role.