The Labour group on Beverley Town Council has called for a fund to help the town recover from the crippling impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, the council holds around £750,000 which Labour councillors believe could offer vital help to residents and businesses who are now struggling financially after five months of lockdown.
At a recent meeting of the Policy and Finance Committee, Councillor Margaret Pinder, former Town Mayor and leader of the Labour group, urged the council to radically expand its current grants system to offer COVID relief to the town.
“When we were elected in May 2019 we were shocked to find the council had built up huge reserves of nearly £700,000.”
“Those funds have now risen to over £750,000, more than £600,00 of which is still sitting in a single non-interest bearing account.”
“That’s money the council has levied on the people of Beverley over recent years and which is not being used to help them or the town.”
“We Labour councillors are calling for the LibDems who lead the council to revisit their plans for an event-driven spending programme and look instead at how to apply that money to help the town get back on its feet as matter of urgency.”
A recent independent audit by Audit Yorkshire into the council’s financial management was highly critical of many aspects of the council’s existing practices and made specific reference to the high levels of unused reserves.
Jackie Heffer, who together with local actor Annie Kirkman, helped establish the Covid-19 Mutual Aid group echoed the call for help for the town.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in hardship among families here. At the height of the pandemic, our volunteers were delivering dozens of food packages, collecting prescriptions and supporting people shielding in lockdown.”
“East Riding Council gave us a lot of support, but I want to see the Town Council use the money they are sitting on to lend a hand as well. That’s our money and if we ever needed it, we need it now.”
The Audit Yorkshire report into Beverley Town Council can be found on the council’s website at https://beverley.gov.uk/resources/files/217690d6f56606529e124cc520784e80/audit_yorkshire_final_report.pdf.