Whitby harbour: end of long-running legal challenge finally in sight
The end of a long-running legal challenge that has led to Scarborough Council’s accounts not being signed off for the last five years is finally in sight.
The council’s 2017/18, 2016/17 and 2015/16 accounts have been held up as the authority is locked in a legal battle with a group of residents over how it classifies income and expenditure from Whitby harbour.
The delays then hit the 2018/19 accounts and the row has now stretched into 2021.
The authority’s auditors Mazars said it had now provided the council with a Statement of Reasons setting out its determination of the objection relating to the 2015/16 accounts.
Once the council has responded, the issues relating to the later accounts will be addressed and the decision will be made public.
The auditors told a meeting of Scarborough Council’s Audit Committee that it was unable to release its findings until the statutory process had been completed.
Rob Walker, partner at Mazars, said: “We completed work on the 2015/16 with the harbour objection and on March 26 issued a Statement of Reasons on which we are currently awaiting a response from the council.”
The challenge has come from the Fight4Whitby pressure group which launched a legal challenge in 2016 citing the 1905 Whitby Urban District Council Act, which stated that income from Whitby harbour must be ring-fenced for use within the harbour.
Mazars has previously said that it has been required to examine financial statements of the council from every year since its formation in 1974 and study several pieces of legislation, including one that dates back to 1861.
Scarborough Council has always denied the claims of the Fight 4 Whitby Group