Press Statement – Issued on behalf of BLTC 08.11.23
We regret to inform residents and partners that the decision has been made by BLTC to close the Community Managed Library until the 21st November.
The decision has been made in light of malicious communications and threats received by the council. Due to staff holidays, we cannot guarantee that our staff and volunteers will not be lone working during this period.
We take the safety of all our staff, customers and partners extremely seriously. Our Library Plus partner at North Northants Council is aware and supportive of our decision.
This ill feeling of some residents has been exacerbated by a number of political canvasing leaflets that have been distributed through the town. We strongly object to the inferences made within these leaflets and would like to record the facts.
The Audit and findings described, refer to the financial year 22/23 under a different Mayor and Town Clerk. It was BLTC councillors’ discoveries that records were not being maintained correctly, that prompted the engagement with NCALC and their Internal Audit process. This also resulted in an independent, subcontracted accountant being employed to reconstruct the financial year in question. The External Auditors were satisfied that all processes had subsequently been put in place to ensure the correct governance and financial procedures were being followed.
In addition, BLTC took the decision to employ a Town Clerk and separate Responsible Finance Officer to ensure better transparency and accountability. Going forward this council must uphold legal decisions made by previous councils in regard to assets held by BLTC.
I would like to reiterate that the office staff are a newly appointed team, who are ensuring legal financial and governance is being adhered to.
The Duck Race has unfortunately been cancelled in the past- mainly due to risk assessments showing that it would be unsafe to hold it. The first race was cancelled in line with legal guidelines surrounding COVID.
The second in light of H&S implications of the weather conditions. The body of water was raised significantly and was moving at an increased speed. Also access to and from the location was compromised by the weather conditions.
This year 2023, under better governance, it was discovered that a Lottery License should have been applied for. It would have been illegal to hold the race- which is classed as a gambling activity – without one. Now we are aware of this, the license can be requested in good time for next year.
We will continue to Risk Assess all council events and will only do what is safe and in the best interests of our staff, councillors and residents.