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Charges laid in Cotswold park probe

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Fraud charges have been laid against the former chief executive of a body that has enmeshed Cotswold DC in controversy.

Dennis Grant, 63, who was chief executive of the Cotswold Water Park Society, has been charged with six offences of fraud by false representation and one offence of obtaining a money transfer by deception, Gloucestershire Police have said.

He has been bailed to appear at Stroud Magistrates Court on 21 March.

Cotswold chief executive David Neudegg last September told internal auditors to investigate whether there was any evidence of impropriety by councillors or officers in dealings with Cotswold Water Park and the society, a charity that runs it.

That probe is now consuming the council’s entire internal audit resource.

The auditors’ brief is also calls for recommendations for any changes in needed to council processes and “whether there are any further actions that the council should consider to ensure openness and transparency in its dealings within the Water Park”. They are expected to report by the end of March.

In response to a written question from a member of the public to the 22 February council meeting, audit committee chair Raymond Theodoulou (Con) said: “Recognising the urgency for this matter to be resolved, the head of internal audit has allocated the entire internal audit service for this investigation along with senior officers from the benefit fraud team.”

A separate governance audit will examine declarations of interest, and gifts and hospitality by councillors and officers.

The 10,000ha water park contains some 150 lakes. It has been subject to local controversy over housebuilding.

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