Questions raised over £200k ‘bung’ to fund horse trials in 2010
Northumberland Labour are calling for former Lib Dem Council leader Jeff Reid to ‘step in and clear up confusion over a mysterious ‘grant’ of over £200,000 to the organisers of the Burgham horse trials in 2010.
After a series of requests submitted by a Freedom of Information Campaigner, questions are being raised about whether the ‘grant’ was a loan, was repayable and whether the council in 2010 had followed the correct procedures in handing out a significant amount of tax payers money.
Cllr Reid was the leader of the council at the time and subsequently was controversially captured branding his home town a ‘dump’ and Labour are now calling for him to step in and explain why a huge amount of tax payer’s money was handed over to a private company at a time when the Lib Dem administration was sacking over 1500 staff.
The FOI’s reveal that the council is ‘confused’ about the real amount, hasn’t kept adequate records and does not seem to have followed the correct financial procedures.
Northumberland Labour group leader Grant Davey said
“I think it’s high time that Cllr Reid cleared up this financial mess. At a time when he was planning to privatise the council, he seems to have been asleep on the job when it comes to accounting for hundreds of thousands of tax payers cash. There’s a confusing series of figures released by the council under FOI and maybe we should start with Jeff answering a simple question – how much money did this involve? He needs to let us know what he knew about this and when and whether he supported the handing over of a massive amount of tax payers cash to fund a horse trial in Burgham. I’m sure the local member in the area Cllr Glen Sanderson, the deputy leader of the Conservative group would join me in asking for full transparency over this matter and I’m hoping Cllr Reid can shed some light on this matter for the sake of public confidence. After all he’s standing in an election asking people to trust him with their cash”.
At the time of the event, Northumberland County Council chiefs defended the event claiming that money would be ‘recouped’ in later years. After the funding for the event was criticised by local MP Ronnie Campbell, it has subsequently emerged that funding ‘spiralled out of control’.