Independent members of a town council in Sedgefield have asked the council's auditor and Durham County Council to investigate what they describe as "malpractice" in giving councillors executive powers to make decisions about finances and employee's pay.
A group of 8 councillors who are part of the Free Association for Independent Representation group have gone public with their accusations against Ferryhill Town Council's ruling councillors claiming that their concerns haven't been taken seriously. They estimate the loss to the taxpayer for what they believe to be illegal authorisation of expenditure to be around £250k.
One of the councillors responsible for making the complaint, Cllr Brian Gibson, said:
We looked at the whole question of having leaders and deputy leaders at a town council but not only had they elected them but they had taken the additional step of giving what could be called executive powers to sign off expenditure such as staff overtime payments, mileage allowances, expenses, a wide range of financial transactions. What we found after more digging was a court case that such transactions were deemed by a judge in the High Court as unlawful practices.