Challenge over trading standards fraud debts

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Sheffield’s opposition councillors have called on Doncaster’s new mayor Ros Jones to ensure a £3 million debt owed by her authority is repaid.

Doncaster Council still owes Sheffield Council the money to cover their share of the 
£14 million losses from fraud at the former South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit.

Barnsley Council owes £2.6 million and Rotherham’s authority £2.3m.

Defeated mayor Peter Davies said Sheffield Council should take responsibility for the fraud, as its manager Peter Buckley – who fiddled the books – was employed by Sheffield Council.

Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Sheffield Council’s Liberal Democrat finance spokesman, said: “The outgoing mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, made clear he did not intend to honour Doncaster’s debts.

“We now need guarantees from his Labour replacement she will cough up what Sheffield is owed.

“These millions could help protect services in Sheffield that are under threat, like local libraries or leisure centres.

“Unfortunately, council bosses in Sheffield are refusing to get tough with their Labour pals across South Yorkshire.

“The new Mayor of Doncaster needs some tough love, but it seems Labour simply aren’t interested in standing up for Sheffield.”

The fraud was only uncovered after Mr Buckley’s death.

Sheffield Council’s ruling Labour group declined to respond to Coun Clement-Jones - but the debts are budgeted to be recovered this financial year.

Ms Jones said: “Provision has been made for this within the council’s accounts.

“It was always our intention to only make a payment once there had been a discussion with all councils involved and the results of independent advice discussed with Sheffield Council.”