Police probe Lib Dems' £500,000 Maghull Town Hall project

Maghull Town Hall

Files have been handed to police to investigate the Lib Dem's £500,000 Maghull Town Hall project after a damning independent audit report from Sefton Council.

Merseyside Police have taken away the audit report into the Liberal Democrat project and will now be carrying out their own investigation into the scheme.

The Sefton MBC audit found the previous Lib Dem administration had completely failed to justify the project.

Sefton MBC auditors found:

  • Substantial and systematic failures in procurement practice and lack of transparency in the process.
  • No evidence had been unearthed to show that the work needed to have taken place at all.
  • There was evidence to show that simple repairs to the roof were required but no evidence for the more complex work which was approved by the Lib Dems.
  • A lack of evidence to demonstrate value for money.

It has also been discovered that the formal loan contract was signed by the Lib Dems on the day before last May's local election. Just 24 hours before they lost control of the council.

Since taking control of the town council last May, the new Labour Group launched its own investigation. They have also handed their findings to the police.

After meeting with officers, Maghull Town Council's audit and governance committee chairwoman, Labour's Cllr Sandra Williams, said she hoped the police would get to the bottom of the why the Lib Dems commissioned the expensive project in the first place.

Cllr Williams said: "We met with Merseyside Police officers to discuss Sefton Council's audit findings and also the findings of the internal Maghull Town Council investigation.

"At Merseyside Police's request, we have handed everything over to them.

"After our own internal investigation, we could not find a satisfactory reason for this very expensive project to be undertaken. We have repeatedly asked the remaining Liberal Democrat Councillors who were involved to give an account, but each time they have either refused or not turned up at all.

"What we did find, which was echoed by the independent Sefton audit, was that under the Lib Dem administration, the governance of the council fell way short of its responsibilities, not just in terms the town hall roof project.

"At present, we cannot give any indication of how long the police investigation will take and the matter is now out of our hands."

Cllr Williams, said the Labour Group had already initiated new procedures to ensure that nothing of this kind could happen again.

Cllr Williams said: "While the matter is now in the hands of the police, the new ruling Labour Group has taken steps to deal with the council's failings and we have put in place more rigorous procedures and protocols, with the support of both the legal and audit departments of Sefton Council and the Local Association of Town Councils.

"I can assure the people of Maghull that my Labour colleagues and I will ensure that we will not allow anything like this to happen again."

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