OVER a six year period, Machynlleth Town Council has incurred a loss of more than £5,000 in VAT that cannot be recovered.

This was the finding of the Wales Audit office in their latest report of financial management in governance and community councils, published on January 31.

On August 24, 2016, the town council held an extraordinary meeting when they agreed to accept recommendations made by an earlier Audit Office report.

Rab Jones, Clerk to Machynlleth Town Council, said the new report would be presented to the Members of the Town Council at their next meeting on February 27.

Cllr Tony Jones, Mayor of Machynlleth, said he is grateful to the current Clerk and his colleagues in addressing the issues that relate primarily to problems from before the current staff were empoyed by the council.

He said: “I am confident that we can all now move forward and put this difficult situation behind us.”

The Auditor General for Wales believes too many community councils, like Machynlleth, are receiving avoidable qualified audit opinions.

County councils are currently looking to transfer more assets over to community councils, who currently are responsible for more than £43 million of public money.

Over 200 of these councils (30 per cent) received a qualified audit opinion on their 2015/16 accounts.

The Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said: “The accountability and scrutiny that comes with the use of public money is growing ever tighter.

“Community councils are responsible for over £43 million worth of funds and are likely to be devolved more responsibilities.

“It is worrying to see that a number of councils have qualified opinions which are easily avoidable and I would urge them to undertake an investigation into their current practice to ensure they are compliant with their legal requirements before the 2016-17 audit reviews.”

The Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’s Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay AM, added: “Community councils have an increasingly important part to play in the provision of public services in Wales as the tier of government closest to the communities they represent.”