A COUNCIL has been accused of making glaring gaffes in its accounts and of having the maths skills of a failed GSCE student.

Bedale accountant Stewart Nuttall has slammed Hambleton District Council for making what he describes as “basic addition errors” within its 2013 to 2014 published statutory accounts.

Mr Nuttall, who has experience with local government accounts, said he had spotted the mistakes by chance, while seeking clarity on the authority's parking enforcement rules.

He said from the start of the account report there were significant mistakes.

For example, Mr Nuttall said the accounts showed the council had subtracted its £7,595,625 net expenditure from the £8,161,873 council tax, revenue support grant and business rates income to produce a surplus of £510,559, when the correct figure should have been £566,248.

He added: “The primary statements to the accounts tell the reader how the council has performed when compared to the budget – whether there is over-spend or under-spend – but there are some significant gaffes.

“This is basic addition and what should be a simple spreadsheet operation.

"Unfortunately, the error is compounded by a disjointed commentary, where the council also seems to make a random choice of incorrect numbers to quote.

“This is basic stuff that the council should be getting right.

"It actually reads like a GSCE student has had a go at writing a report and failed - and the end result is that Hambleton is misleading any general reader of the accounts.”

Mr Nuttall said the council had also failed to properly disclose senior employee pay, and over the level the size of redundancy packages.

“The decision not to publish senior pay is all the more astounding given that the accounts are showing a 20 per cent increase in total employee expense,” he said.

The accounts are published on the authority website and were signed off by the chief financial officer Dr Justin Ives in June.

Dr Ives, director of support services and deputy chief executive, recently received a 30 per cent pay award to achieve a base salary of £90,000.

The accounts are subject to audit, but are due to be formally approved on Wednesday (September 24).

Mr Nuttall added: “I would hope that the auditors, Deloittes, have made all the necessary corrections and have given a suitably critical report on the accounts.

“I will be writing to the auditors to complain and hope the accounts are put right.”

“These accounts have been on public view for nearly three months and will have misled readers.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Due to the nature of the comments – and the current absence through leave of our director of support services, Justin Ives, who is in overall charge of the accounts – we will be suggesting Mr Nuttall meets with Mr Ives to discuss his concerns in detail.”