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Lost thousands revealed after audit of West Norfolk village community hub

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A West Norfolk community hub lost thousands of pounds following what an independent auditor described as “frequent and endemic abuse of position” by a senior official.

The comment is contained within a document issued to residents in West Dereham by community leaders who called in the Charity Commission after the issue came to light.

But, although the chairman of the hall’s committee has been sacked, questions are being raised about whether the police should also investigate.

GV Photo of West Dereham Village Hall. (15564156)
GV Photo of West Dereham Village Hall. (15564156)

The statement, a copy of which was hand delivered to the Lynn News offices this week, said “serious concerns” about the hall’s bar account had been raised by a member of the building’s management committee in March.

They were then reported to the village’s parish council, which acts as custodian trustees of the hall.

It subsequently reported the concerns to the Charity Commission and ordered an independent audit of the hall’s affairs.

The paper said that, as part of that process, a formal interview was conducted with the then chairman of the hall’s committee, who also acted as manager of its bar account.

Although she acknowledged having sole control of the accounts’ cards, the document said she could not account for either disproportionate purchases of stock or what it described as “significant numbers of missing documents”.

She also admitted failing to follow proper procedures and allowing untrained individuals to conduct cash transactions behind the bar.

The paper said: “The accumulated loss of money for the Village Hall in the financial year 2018/19 has been calculated as £6,284.74.

“It was the overall conclusion of the Independent Auditor that frequent and endemic abuse of position by the Village Hall Chair had occurred.

“On the balance of evidence available, the Custodian Trustees, both immediately past and present, unanimously considered it appropriate to dismiss the Village Hall Chair from all Village Hall posts held.”

However, not everyone appears to be happy with that outcome as a handwritten note accompanying a copy of the statement said: “The Parish Council printed this statement but for some reason do not want to report to the police.”

But council officials say the Charity Commission has advised them it is not taking any further action on the affair and individuals can choose to involve the police if they believe that is necessary.

The Charity Commission was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of going to press.

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