Machynlleth Town Council’s accounts, that have been absent since December 2019, are hoped to be published by the end of May.
The issue of missing accounts first came to light in a council meeting on 26 April 2021, when Councillor Gareth Jones and Cllr Monica Atkins threatened to resign if they did not receive the full accounts by the following meeting on 24 May 2021.
One year on, finance officer for the council Nicole Beaumont said she is hoping “things will be in the correct order” by the end of May, adding “this is me being optimistic”.
In a full council meeting on 25 April, Cllr Gareth Jones said: “The proper officer kindly sent me an email last week regarding the audit and where we were at. At that point, going back a month, there were still some outstanding years to be audited.
“Has there been any progress since the date of that email? In particular as this is the last meeting of this town council. Next time the council sits maybe we won’t be here. But I believe the next councillors deserve to come in on a good footing.
“This has been ongoing from April last year, we are finally getting to the end thanks to the work of our proper officer and auditor.
“Nevertheless people who come sit here next time might be different. It would be an awful legacy for the new people if they can’t have the confidence in the accounts to make informed spending decisions.”
Cllr Gareth Jones called for assurances that the full accounts will be in place “by the next time the council sits”, adding “that’s exactly what the people of Machynlleth deserve. It should have happened in the first place, it should have been scrutinized by the councillors at the time”.
Ms Beaumont said she does not want “the issue” hanging over her and hopes “things will be in the correct order” by the end of May.
Cllr Gareth Jones replied: “I don’t think it will be hanging on to you forever. You are the person putting it right for us. I don’t think you have anything to be apologetic about, it’s the responsibility of the people in this chamber now and certainly those at the time the accounts went into the state they did.
“It would be a dreadful legacy to leave behind for the people after us.”
Cllr Monica Atkins has been supporting Cllr Gareth Jones since he first started pushing for their release in April last year: “Thank you for Cllr Gareth Jones for bringing this up tonight. We might not be here next time, I think it’s our duty to look forward and to be side by side with the new councillors so they can carry on the good work we were unable to get to, because we asked and asked about figures and did not get them.”
In a meeting on 26 July 2021, Cllr Ann MacGarry addressed the reasons for the delay, stating while she “absolutely agreed” the information should be available, the reasons behind it not being so could not be discussed in a public session: “The capacity is not there to delve into that. Because of the lockdown, we were not meeting and we were not in a position to push for this.
“Any other answer is not suitable for public meeting.”