'Fraud claim was not about criminality': Councillor clarifies view over budget

PUBLISHED: 07:44 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:44 25 January 2019

Councillor Mike Shellens. Picture: ARCHANT

Councillor Mike Shellens. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A Huntingdonshire councillor who caused a furore when he claimed the county council’s budget was “fraudulent” now says he never intended to imply any criminal proceeding took place.

Last month, Cambridgeshire County Council was accused of putting together a “fraudulent” budget based on incorrect figures.

Councillor Mike Shellens, chairman of the council’s audit and accounts committee, made the extraordinary claim during a meeting of the full council on December 11.

Cllr Shellens, who represents Huntingdon North and Hartford, told the council he believed the figures used to decide the budget for children’s social services and adult social care were incorrect. He claimed the council kept ending up in “a mess”, and overspending every year because the numbers were wrong.

Cllr Shellens said: “Putting incorrect information out is, in my view, fraudulent.”

At the meeting, Cllr Shellens was asked by Cllr Ian Bates and council leader Cllr Steve Count to withdraw the claim, noting the suggestion was “extremely serious”. Cllr Shellens, however, declined, saying he had heard the requests, but stood by what he had said.

Now, Cllr Shellens has clarified that he never intended to imply any criminal activity had taken place.

Speaking at the council’s audit and accounts committee on January 24, Cllr Shellens said: “The words used were personal views and were not intended to reflect the views of the audit and accounts committee.

“To be unequivocally clear I have not, never have and do not contend, that our budgets are criminally fraudulent and have never intended to suggest they were.”

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