Town council accused of 'extravagance'

A TOWN council has rejected a claim from a member of its own finance committee that taxpayers' money is being managed in a “careless” fashion.A row has broken out at Framlingham over a decision by the town council to move into new, larger offices.

By David Green

A TOWN council has rejected a claim from a member of its own finance committee that taxpayers' money is being managed in a “careless” fashion.

A row has broken out at Framlingham over a decision by the town council to move into new, larger offices.

Beryl Whitehead, a former council chairman and current member of its finance committee, has voiced her opposition to what she calls an “extravagance” and claims the public has not been given accurate information about the cost of the move.


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Chairman of the finance committee, Lt Col Alistair Hamer-Phillip , has claimed the move will be saving £5,000 because, despite the “set-up” costs involved, it would no longer be necessary to go ahead with proposals to build a new £10,000 store for council equipment and documents.

But Mrs Whitehead, a retired school teacher, said the £5,000 being spent on the office move in the new financial year was coming from the council's investment account and was in addition to a local council tax increase amounting to 39%.

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At the end of the financial year councillors would face having to find more money from the investment account to or increase the local council tax once more, in order to stay in the new offices.

“This is not saving money but throwing it away by bad house keeping,” Mrs Whitehead said.

She added: “People who know me are aware of my opposition to this extravagance and have persuaded me to stay and fight the careless way in which the finances of the town are being managed by those to whom money is apparently not such a hard-fought commodity.”

A statement drawn up by the town council chairman, Stephanie Bennell, and Lt Col Hamer-Philip and issued by clerk, Eileen Coe, rejected the criticism and pointed out that the 39% rise in the local council tax equated to just 34 pence a week for a Band D property.

The statement said all the information had been in the public domain and detailed breakdowns were available.

The latest external audit report had stated the council's finances were in accordance with the Audit Commission's requirements.

Town councillors gave their time voluntarily for the benefit of the community and did so with care and consideration, regardless of their personal financial situations, the statement added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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