Councillors have raised the alarm about Doncaster Market’s finances after it was revealed rent arrears have skyrocketed by £50,000 in just a year.
According to a report, missed rent payments on stalls have increased from £8,000 in February 2015 to £58,000 this April.
The data, contained in a follow-up audit review into progress made at the market after a damning report last year, was discussed at a Doncaster Council committee meeting yesterday.
Peter Jackson, internal audit manager, said the figures were down to better identification and recording of debt, rather than a problem with debt collection, but work was required to ensure the situation was brought under control.
Mr Jackson said a new IT system to help tackle the issue had been expected to come into force next month – but it was now likely to be implemented in March next year instead.
Speaking at the meeting, Coun Richard Jones said: “Talking about the financial side of things, £8,000 to £58,000 to me is quite a dramatic amount.
“I think the new IT management system should be in place earlier – next year seems a long time.”
Councillors were told the timescale for the new IT system reflected that the matter was being handled in a joined-up way for market finances as a whole, rather than being carried out in isolation, and that the new system would be an improvement on the old method, which involved using a spreadsheet.
The follow-up report comes after a ‘no assurance’ rating was given – the lowest possible mark – after an audit review in 2014-15.
A number of council staff were disciplined last year after the original report in February 2015, in which a list of failings were identified at the market.
The review revealed progress had been made and the auditors’ opinion had been revised to ‘partial assurance’ – the second best rating.
Coun Austen White said: “I think this report is very reassuring.”