Former Scarborough Council’s finances put under spotlight at full council meeting

The management of public money at the former Scarborough Council has been brought up at a recent meeting.
Scarborough Town HallScarborough Town Hall
Scarborough Town Hall

The use and management of finances at the now-defunct Scarborough Borough Council was put under the spotlight at a full meeting of North Yorkshire Council (NYC) on Wednesday, November 15.

North Yorkshire’s district and borough councils were amalgamated into the new unitary NYC in April, as part of a devolution plan which made North Yorkshire Council responsible for the abolished councils’ financial commitments.

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At the first full meeting since Benchmark Leisure Ltd – the developer of Scarborough’s Alpamare water park – went into administration last month, councillors called for answers about the £9m loan given to the company by Scarborough Council in 2013.

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Council promises Alpamare investigation

Members of the authority also highlighted several other financial issues related to the former Scarborough Borough Council including accounts that have not been signed off and spending on parties.

Coun Mike Jordan raised a question about whether the chair of the council’s audit committee would sign off on “Scarborough finances which have been left for a number of years and will it include the £9,000 end-of-term party?”

The chair of the audit committee, Coun Cliff Lunn, said: “We have not received a statement of financial accounts from Scarborough for many years because of some legal difficulties over harbours and parking and when it comes to committee we will look at it”.

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The issue of accounts relates to a long-running legal dispute centred around the use of income from Whitby Harbour which has left accounts dating back to 2016 being held up.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service also revealed earlier this year that Scarborough Council spent more than £9,000 on a final day leaving party for its staff.

Audit committee chair, Coun Lunn added: “I’ve also been asked another question about the water park and whether the audit committee was notified about this.

“I would like to say yes we were, we had presentations from all the boroughs and districts and amongst the Scarborough ones, there were two pages on the presentation about the water park and the finance and the systems put in place for this.”

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Speaking at the meeting, the council’s executive member for finance and assets, Coun Gareth Dadd added that the council was “committed to delivering the best outcome from a situation we have inherited from Scarborough Borough Council for the town’s residents and businesses as well as the wider North Yorkshire communities”.

One of North Yorkshire Council’s current executive members, Coun Derek Bastiman, was on Scarborough Council’s cabinet and voted in favour of the authority approving the £9m loan to Benchmark Leisure in 2013.

The council has said that an investigation into Alpamare-related finances will be conducted by its internal auditor Veritau.