Budget & Audit

Disclosure of all payments over £500 Government Guidelines has suggested that all Councils inform ratepayers of all expenditure over £500 to their ratepayers. Whilst this is not a legal requirement at the moment, Penmaenmawr Town Council are a proactive and an open Town Council and listed below are all payments to suppliers and contractors which is over £500.

Penmaenmawr Town Council - Press Statement regarding Welsh Audit Report

The Penmaenmawr Town Council welcomes the publication of the Welsh Audit Office (WAO) Report into the Use of Financial Reserves, up to and including the last financial year. The Council accepts the findings of this Report and acknowledges that during the period in question, its standards fell below those expected of a public body. Almost twelve months on from first publicising its difficulties the Penmaenmawr Town Council is now in a financially stable position, with reserves that exceed those recommended by oversight organisations. This resulted in the Auditor General concluding yesterday (17th October 2019) “I am encouraged that the Council has since put in changes to address the weaknesses identified in my reports”.

The Council would like to reinforce that the financial problems discussed in the Report were initially discovered through Council’s own internal procedures, and it was the Council who brought these matters into the public domain and, indeed, reported them to the Welsh Audit Office. The Council immediately took steps to rectify the issues, publishing a full report on its website in December 2018. By the spring of 2019, when the WAO investigation began most of the recommendations contained in the Auditor General’s Report had already been implemented. This is recognised in the report, which emphasises ‘‘it is evident that the Council had recognised the seriousness of its financial position by the autumn of 2018 and had started taking action to improve its budgetary control and monitoring arrangements.’ This exercise was completed earlier this year.

The Mayor stated that “While the Council, and individual Councillors, have accepted that during this period they fell short in their responsibilities, the majority have since worked hard to rectify the issues and are now fully focussed on the challenges and possibilities for Penmaenmawr in the coming years.” This positive outlook is echoed by the Auditor General ‘the Council continues to strengthen its financial management and governance and is determined not to allow a similar situation to arise again in the future.’

18th October 2019

Over recent weeks a number of articles and reports have been disseminated regarding Penmaenmawr Town Council’s financial situation, culminating in remarks made by Janet Finch-Saunders AM in the Senedd last week. While the Council’s normal practice is not to comment on overall financial issues until the annual accounts audit is complete, and the figures have been finalised (hence the silence to date), it is felt that the current level of speculation and mis-information is such that an official response is now warranted.

It has recently come to light that over the last three years the Town Council have been spending more on the local community that it has been receiving in its annual precept (income). To pay for this over-expenditure on local projects, money has been drawn from the Council’s reserves. The first transfer occurring in November 2015, the last in July 2018. The total amount transferred from reserves during this period is £100,000. This has left the Council with almost no financial reserves.

Contrary to some reports, every penny of this money has been accounted for. All Council expenditure has been presented and approved by Councillors and this information is, and has been throughout, in the public domain (see Annual Audit Reports and payment lists within meeting minutes, both available on the Council’s website, for a full breakdown of expenditure).

In response to some claims, which have, at times, included libellous claims, the Town Council confirms that Councillors give their time for free. No Councillor has received any financial reward (or reward in kind) beyond the reimbursement of legitimate travel expenses and/or training costs. Over the three year period in question the total amount spent by the Council on such expenses is £1,505.

The current financial situation, while extremely regrettable, has arisen because the Council was regularly required to make decisions regarding expenditure on local community events, charities and organisations, without being furnished with accurate and up to date financial information. This led to a culture of generosity towards local projects that the Council’s finances could not sustain. The Town Council acknowledges that this was a weakness on its part and has introduced robust new procedures to ensure greater financial oversight in the future. The Town Council sincerely apologises for its management of public finances over the last few years and accepts that this is not in keeping with the high standards expected of a local Council. Despite its shortfalls, the Council would like to affirm that it has, throughout the period, acted in the interest of the residents of the area.

Reinforcing this intent, Penmaenmawr Town Council, in keeping with every other Council in Wales, is audited regularly; Firstly, by an independent Council nominated auditor and again by a separate Welsh Government nominated auditor. Reports from both these independent inspectors confirm that no wrongdoing has occurred, either legally or procedurally. Despite this, as soon as the current situation was unearthed, the Council reported the situation both to the Welsh Audit Office and One Voice Wales (the support organisation for Community and Local Councils). Since that initial contact the Welsh Audit Office have confirmed its intent to inspect Penmaenmawr in the near future, an inspection that the Town Council welcomes.

Breakdown of Expenditure April 2015 - March 2018

Breakdown of Expenditure - Young People


UPDATE 13 March 2019

In response to comments made by local residents at a recent meeting regarding the lack of spending on young people by the Penmaenmawr Town Council, the Town Council would like to highlight that over the last four years (up to 31st March 2018) spending on this demographic has increase both as a total amount and as a percentage of the Projects and Grants allocation. See table below:

Amount Spent on Young People

£3,340

£5,750

£10,490

£22,104

Total Project & Grant Expenditure

£46,836

£64,052

£102,636

£104,471

Young People Expenditure as:

% of Project/Grant Expenditure

7.13%

8.98%

10.22%

21.16%


A variety of clubs and organisations have benefitted from this money, such as the local schools, Maes y Llan Play Area, St Gwynan’s Playgroup, the Sailing Club, Pen Phoenix to name but a few. A full breakdown of the Council’s expenditure is available on this above.