Brighton City Council staff acted in “good faith” in relation to the expense saga

COUNCIL staff were acting “in good faith” over a saga in which a council member was demanding hundreds of pounds in taxpayers’ money, according to the council’s chief executive.

Cllr Phillips was found to have overclaimed 55 of its 74 expense claims between October 2019 and March 2021, with some claims being approved by council staff without receipts or supporting information.

City Council has returned £490 and apologized for the “small number of claims I have made which were inconsistent with the Council’s spending policy”.

At a meeting of the council’s Audit and Standards Committee, Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis, the council’s chief legal officer, apologized after assuring former committee chair Councilor Daniel Yates that there were no discrepancies with Cllr Phillips’ expense reports.

He said to Cllr Yates: ‘I gave you this assurance when this assurance was given to me; I asked the officials in charge to look into the situation and they told me it was okay.”

Brighton and Hove City Council CEO Geoff Raw said that council staff had apologized and that the council accepted the findings of the inquiry.

He said: “All Council staff have acted in good faith in relation to this issue and apologized for instances where the advice they provided based on the information available to them at the time was found to be incorrect.

“We have made it clear that we accept the results of the independent review of councillors’ claims that we commissioned. As an organization, we are committed to learning and implementing their recommendations.”

A claim by Cllr Phillips saw her recovering money from taxpayers for childcare that didn’t happen because she and her family were in France when the pandemic began.

The councillor, who has also served as mayor of Brighton and Hove and an MEP, said she still wanted to pay for the service due to “the drop in income of many childcare workers” and admitted she “should not have reclaimed those payments”. of the public treasury”.

Cllr Phillips announced earlier this year that both she and her husband, the council’s joint finance chief, Tom Druitt, will step down in the next local elections in May 2023. Brighton City Council staff acted in “good faith” in relation to the expense saga

Fry Electronics Team

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