Theatre had 'significant overspend'

“SERIOUS control issues” have been uncovered by an investigation into the running of a council-operated theatre in a coastal Essex town.

Elliot Furniss

“SERIOUS control issues” have been uncovered by an investigation into the running of a council-operated theatre in a coastal Essex town.

The Princes and Youth Theatre in Clacton is owned and managed by Tendring District Council and a recent examination of its accounts and administration practices found several issues that required immediate action.

“Significant overspends” in 2007/08 were identified, paperwork was missing and inadequate budget controls were found to be in place during a recent internal audit.


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The findings of the investigation will be discussed by the council's audit committee at a meeting next Wednesday and a follow-up audit has already been ordered and will take place shortly.

A report to the committee confirms that the council's head of leisure services and the new theatre manager have already implemented control measures that should prevent a repetition of the problems.

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The audit established that the previous assessment in November 2007 had recorded cases where “sundry debtor accounts” could not be identified for hires that had taken place.

The report also noted a “high risk” issue about the lack of records relating to the use of a cash advance for a trip to a production of We Will Rock You in Biberach, Germany.

It has been agreed that any future cash advances will be certified by a senior officer not involved in drawing, holding or spending the advance.

The theatre manager must now maintain “adequate” records and receipts in the future.

Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council's communications manager, said that the authority's own internal controls identified that an over spend had occurred.

“This was therefore investigated to identify the reasons and ensure that appropriate action was taken to prevent this occurring again,” he said. “The necessary changes to working practices have been implemented and the matter will be reviewed to ensure that the changes have been effective.”

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