Machynlleth town councillors responsible for a major oversight in financial accounts are urging the council to “learn from the mistakes and move forward”.
Until last month, the town council accounts for 2019/20 and 2020/21 were not available for councillors or the public to see.
Additionally, the publication of the latest accounts revealed a mistake in 2018/19 figures, which stated that the council ended the year with a £35,824.12 surplus, when in actuality it was a deficit.
The 2019/20 accounts rectified this mistake, stating that the town council started the year with a £35,824.12 debt.
Despite a quick calculation based on the 2018/19 accounts available at the time revealing this error, it seems none of the councillors noticed this.
Cllr James Honeybill, one of the current councillors who also served at the time, said he was unsure if he saw the 2018/19 accounts when they were published.
When asked whether he had noticed the mistake, Cllr Honeybill said: “As an elected member, I’m not an accountant. I expect people in whatever capacity at the council to do their jobs.”
Former clerk Jim Griffiths was the clerk at the time.
Councillors are unsure how the mistake was made, how it went unnoticed, and why the following year accounts were not published.
And the councillors at the time, Cllr Mike Williams, Cllr Monica Atkins, Cllr Ann MacGarry, as well as Cllr Honeybill, are unable to shed any light on this. Nor can they “discuss it openly” due to “confidentiality reasons”.
Cllr Honeybill said: “We need to be open about what went wrong.
“But there are issues that involve people and, because of legal matters, we can’t discuss it further.
“I am concerned. The sooner we get to the bottom of what happened the better.
“We have to look back and see why this happened, but we need to move on. There are positive things we need to do for the town.”
Cllr Honeybill said the issue would be discussed further in the next council meeting in September.
When asked about the issue, Cllr Williams said: “I’m not going back to past histories. I’m very pleased that the town council’s now finding itself moving forward to a conclusion regarding the accounts.”
When asked whether he saw the 2018/19 accounts at the time, Cllr Williams said he couldn’t recall. He added in relation to the error that “nobody brought it to [his] attention at the time”.
On whether the lack of accounts in following years was questioned, Cllr Williams said: “The town council was where it was at the time, I don’t want to say anymore. At one stage we found it difficult to have a quorum. The town council must have a third of members present [for a meeting to take place].
“The past will always be the past, nothing will change it. It’s time to learn from the past and move forward.”
Cllr Atkins refused to comment.
Cllr MacGarry has been contacted for a comment.