A FORMER town council clerk has launched a robust defence after questions were raised in public about the state in which he had left the accounts.
Gareth Williams was clerk of Saltney Town Council for 35 years until April 30, but at a recent meeting councillors agreed to refer the accounts to an external auditor for a deep audit going back two years and will be notifying the Welsh Audit Office.
Mr Williams, who now lives with family in Granada, Spain, said the external auditor had not found any issues of concern nor financial irregularities in the previous 34 audits.
He said: “It is disappointing that after 35 years and only recently retired these issues are raised when I am not in the UK to defend myself.”
When new clerk Alan Thorniley took over in June this year, he was instructed to bring the books up to date after it was discovered the cash book was not completed since December 2007.
JDH Services Ltd completed a full internal audit for 2007-08 as a matter of routine.
The audit discovered there was no evidence the clerk’s salary had been declared to HM Revenue and Customs, no record of petty cash expenditure and a bank statement verifying the bank balance was a photocopy when the original should have been retained.
Councillors questioned who had paid for personal calls made to Spain.
In a statement, former clerk Mr Williams clarified tax had been paid on all town council earnings.
Mr Williams said petty cash payments of £20 or £30 per month comprised virtually all postage and every one of these was individually specified in the post book along with the amount of postage.
Regarding phone calls to Spain, Mr Williams said: “The town council shared a phone in my family home which was used for both town council and personal calls. As the calls to Spain were paid for voluntarily by me I fail to see this should even be raised as an issue.”
Mr Williams said: “During my 35 years as clerk the town council has been the subject of 34 annual external audits and last year was one of the 5% of authorities picked by random to have an extended audit. In all 34 such audits the external auditor has not found any issues of concern nor financial irregularities.”