Transport charity over-claimed £20,000 for bus services, says council audit report

An investigation by Conwy County Borough Council (pictured) finds that Conwy Community Transport made claims for services that had already been paid for

Conwy County Borough Council
Conwy County Borough Council

A community transport charity claimed a total of almost £20,000 in public funds for a bus service that had already been paid for by another funder and for another that had stopped running more than two years earlier, a council investigation has found.

A report into the investigation, which was discussed yesterday at Conwy County Borough Council’s audit committee, says Conwy Community Transport submitted claims for £9,287.80 from the council for its Ysbyty Ifan service, which had already been paid for by Conwy Community Transport’s Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative.

The report says: "It was also identified that, as early as March 2010, Conwy Community Transport was aware of double funding issues with the Ysbyty Ifan service, but continued to submit claims for a total of £9,287.80 to CCBC for a service where the full operational costs had already been met by the Conwy Community Transport’s Community Transport Concessionary Fares Initiative."

The report says the charity had submitted claims totalling £10,184 for the Cerrigydrudion to Llanrwst service.

"Diary evidence indicates that this service has not operated since November 2009, but invoices have been submitted on a monthly basis for this service to CCBC up until March 2012," it says.

The council produced the report after allegations were made by a whistleblower in July 2012.

It says Conwy Community Transport’s manager, who is not named in the report, was suspended and then dismissed.

The case was referred to North Wales Police on 19 March this year, but the report says that police decided not to prosecute because the manager did not gain personally and there was no likelihood of prosecution.

The report says a repayment plan was being considered but had yet to be finalised for the money over-claimed from the council.

The charity has begun working on an action plan to resolve its problems, the report says. This includes a restructure of the board so that management will be carried out by a working committee of trustees with the appropriate skills, and the appointment of a new operations manager with "the necessary managerial skills".

New software was installed in August to enable accurate monitoring of mileage, fuel consumption and drivers’ hours, and regular internal audits will be carried out to prevent incorrect claims.

There will also be an appointed treasurer and, in the meantime, finances will be overseen by the trustees management group. New trustees are also joining the board.

Nobody from the charity was available for comment on Tuesday morning.

Chloe Stothart recommends

Conwy County Borough Council

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