DCSIMG

Millions in South Yorkshire Trading Standards debt finally getting paid

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 the late Michael James Buckley South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit manager at the South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit , Chapeltown, nr Sheffield       See story   Picture  Chris Lawton  6th  Feb  2006

conBS the late Michael James Buckley South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit manager at the South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit , Chapeltown, nr Sheffield See story Picture Chris Lawton 6th Feb 2006

  • by Ellen Beardmore
 

Councils have finally started to pay the millions in debt owed over the legal dispute surrounding South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit.

Rotherham Council finally agreed last month to pay £2.182 million and Barnsley Council has paid £1.9m to Sheffield Council to end the long-running case of shocking corruption at the unit.

Doncaster Council agreed a settlement of £2.5m three weeks ago, although so far the money is still outstanding.

The unit was exposed as making losses totalling £13.5m in 2005, and a criminal investigation showed the deceased head of the unit, Michael Buckley, had been engaged in false accounting for the last decade of his life.

The unit was closed and assets sold off.

Three accomplices were later given suspended prison sentences.

Sheffield Council has been trying to recover losses ever since, and was last year warned by the district auditor the lack of payment was a ‘major weakness’.

Sheffield has paid £7m, said a council spokesman.

She added: “We have budgeted for that. We are not going to be pursuing any further action, we have come to these agreements and want the matter to be at an end.”

Last year the council said legal action could be considered if the money was not recovered.

Opposition councillors say they have been pressing their Labour counterparts ‘every month’ to make sure action was being taken amid fears frontline services could be affected.

Sheffield decided to bear the largest cost of the debt because it was the biggest of the councils, and it said the amounts paid by other councils were ‘proportionate’.

Rotherham Council said it had paid after lengthy negotiations, and that the decision was the ‘best way’ to resolve the issue.

The council had ‘prudently’ provided a liability in its statement of accounts of £2.635m, it added.

 

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