September 23, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Company run by councillors in dispute with town council over ownership of £30k information screens

A town council and a charity previously run by councillors are currently involved in a legal dispute over media screens worth thousands of pounds.

Porthcawl Town Council (PTC) is in an ownership dispute with Credu Charity Ltd regarding five touchscreens that were supposed to be installed throughout the town for tourist information.

Credu Charity Ltd is a now-liquidated company whose director and secretary were two councillors for PTC and Bridgend County Borough Council – Michael and Norah Clarke.

The charity had promised to deliver a £5.5 million maritime development in Porthcawl and invoiced the council for services including grass cutting,  refurbishing public toilets, an outdoor cinema event, and maintaining an underpass.

Finance experts Auditing Solutions Ltd recently published a report revealing the council gave contracts worth more than £50,000 to Credu in 2020/21 without following proper procedures.

They found “major failings” and evidence of “unacceptable practices” in the way the council complied with legal, financial and democratic processes.

A report by auditors states the council and Credu’s liquidators are involved in  “an ongoing dispute… concerning the ownership of five media screens”.

The large touchscreens were a joint project between PTC and Credu consisting of interactive touch screens with tourist information available covering Porthcawl and surrounding area.

It is understood the total value of the screens is around £30,000. Anonymous sources told the Local Democracy Reporting service the council approved the project in 2018/19 and each of the screens cost £5,000.

The report by Auditing Solutions states one screen “has been installed at the Porthcawl Information Kiosk, and the remaining four… are in storage at the suppliers”.

It adds: “The receiver claims that the media screens are the property of the Credu Charity in liquidation, however, the council made no formal resolution to donate the media screens to the Credu Charity.

“As the Invoice for the Media Screens is in the name of the council, and the council paid for the screens in full, the council should make all possible efforts to recover its property and the items should be placed on the council’s asset register.

“The council should make all possible efforts to assert ownership of the media screens which it purchased and recover its property.”

The town council is currently under investigation by South Wales Police and Audit Wales.

Stuart Pollard, director of Auditing Solutions, said he is “unable to comment further” on the report.

He added: “It is not our practice to enter into discussions with individual members of the public or individual councillors on the issues identified in our reports, or any other matters of concern that they may have: the correct line of enquiry is to address issues to the external auditors, which in this case is Audit Wales.

“Further, due to the ongoing investigations by both Audit Wales and the South Wales Police, as detailed on the Porthcawl Town Council website, no further communications may be entered into.”

 Rachel Lai, joint liquidator of Credu Charity Ltd and director at accountancy firm Menzies LLP, said: “Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on confidential client matters.”

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