Looking at Hailsham Town Council’s accounts online

QUESTIONS have been asked about the accuracy of some of the latest accounts published online on Hailsham Town Council’s website.

In reports for the Finance & Budget Oversight Committee (June 11 2012), information about the total funds available in the accounts for the Fund Summary as at March 31 2012 differed in two calculations by more than £100,000.

Line five of ‘Total Funds Available’ said there was £286,022.21 and the document said this was equal to ‘Line 12’. However Line 12 said the ‘Total Funds Available’ were £394,437.69.

There was a question as a result of these errors as to whether the ‘Summary of Income and Expenditure as at March 31 2012’ was wrong.

Town Clerk John Harrison said: “This has resulted from a data transfer error which has now been rectified.”

A more complex issue revolved around an outstanding loan to the town’s community hall which the town council had resolved to write off.

In the list of meeting reports for May 23 the ‘Fixed Asset Summary’ has the Entry: ‘Loan to Community Hall’ with a loan value listed of £10,666 written off.

Another report, ‘Statement of Accounts (year ending March 31 2012) Project Accounts’: Entry: ‘Community Hall Loan’ lists a write-off for £8,970 (hall accounts balance, when it was wound up).

Then in another report, ‘Statement of Accounts (Year End, March 31 2012) Analysis of reserves/End of Year balance’ the value of the ‘Commuted Sum Account’ is reported as £219,953. There was a question as to whether this should be £8,970 more.

It was also noted that on the website’s ‘Council Finance & Accounts Section’ the report ‘Fund Summary as at March 31 2012’ (the report that does not balance) still shows a ‘Loan to Community Hall’ - outstanding balance.

So the entry ‘Total Commuted Sum’ of £228,923.61 did not appear to reflect the total of £219,953 as reported in the end of year accounts. And if the loan balance of £8,970 had not been returned to the Commuted Sum account (where is it being reported within the accounts) another entry could be overstated.

Town Clerk John Harrison explained: “It was agreed that the loan to the Community Hall will be written off. However, Hailsham Town Council was waiting for outstanding bills to be paid so that the correct write-off figure could be obtained (£8,970).

“It was still showing as outstanding as at March 31 2012 due to a timing delay between cheque written and cleared into the commuted sum account. This is why it is still showing in the fund summary as at March 31 2012. The cheque cleared in April 2012, so from this date there will no longer be an amount showing as outstanding loan to the Community Hall.”

In response to this statement by the town council, the Sussex Express has received a query from an unnamed source as to which cheque needed to be cleared.

The money would have been transferred from one council account to another, it was said. It was pointed out there was still no explanation as to where the £8,970 is sitting in the accounts and a cheque does not need to clear before it is brought to account.