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MPs LASH OUT AT RHUDDLAN OVER LEGACY OF£10M DEBTS

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Officers and members of the former Rhuddlan BC have been criticised by MPs over passing on debts to Denbighshire CC...
Officers and members of the former Rhuddlan BC have been criticised by MPs over passing on debts to Denbighshire CC that could total more than£10 million.

In a scathing report, the Commons' Welsh affairs committee calls on former Rhuddlan BC chief executive Edwin Lake to apologise to the community for what took place. And former members of the defunct council are rebuked for not appearing to have 'taken sufficiently seriously their duty to their electorate to ensure the proper management of public funds'.

MPs call on the Welsh Assembly to realise the severity of the problems now facing Denbighshire and provide financial assistance if needed.

Denbighshire inherited debts from Rhuddlan which could amount to more than£10m. This includes doubts over Rhuddlan's grant-aided projects, including European Commission money, which could yet see more than£2m clawed back.

The committee says Mr Lake, who had also acted as chief financial officer in the final months of the council's existence, had admitted mismanagement and should now apologise.

MPs say it is not acceptable for the post of chief executive officer and chief financial officer to be combined, 'even for short periods'.

And the report says: 'While it beggars belief that Rhuddlan's capital programme went so spectacularly wrong only in the last few months, there is no clear evidence to the contrary.'

But the MPs also note that Rhuddlan had left a 'legacy of extensive capital investment and innovative developments'.

The committee says Denbighshire cannot escape some share of the responsibility for the problems.

Denbighshire's chief executive Huw Thomas welcomed the report. 'It confirms the extent of the problem Denbighshire faces. The committee's hope that Assembly members will recognise the severity of Denbighshire's financial problems and provide further financial assistance towards the paying back of grant aid is particularly welcomed,' he said.

Mr Lake could not be contacted for comment.

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