The man who delivered a successful appeal for PPE at the height of the pandemic will 'repay' Whitehaven Town Council in wheelbarrows full of pennies.

Lee Butterworth, who runs Xtreme Fitness at Lillyhall, worked with Unite and other partners to deliver PPE and hand sanitiser to health and care workers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when those items were hard to source.

However his actions came under fire when he secured a grant by Whitehaven Town Council to fund part of the donations.

This was due to Councillor Brian O'Kane, the mayor of the authority and Mr Butterworth's father-in-law, failing to declare an interest at the beginning of the meeting when the payment was authorised.

However, councillor O'Kane apologised and declared the interest at a later point of the council meeting prior to the item being discussed and pointed out that no irregularities had occurred.

But after four councillors - Edwin and Gemma Dinsdale, Carla Arrighi and Ryan Redmond -aired their concerns repeatedly at council meetings, Mr Butterworth decided to take matters into his own hands.

He has now set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money.

He said: "I just want an end to it. My wife Emma is 12 weeks pregnant and it is really stressing her out.

"Once I've raised the £1,000 I'll withdraw it in 1p, 2p and 5p coins and fill some wheelbarrows.

"What I'm planning is a sponsored event where we can walk with the wheelbarrows from my gym to Whitehaven and do it for charity, for the local children bereavement services.

"It's probably a bit childish, but I don't care, I'm defending myself and if we can raise some money for charity, all the better."

Mr Butterworth said that one of the points disputed was that the town council's payment was made to his business and those who said they had benefited from the donations, had received the items before the payment was made.

However he explained that he had initially put the money forward for the purchase to avoid waiting for the lengthy council procedures and once the town council was in a position to proceed with the donation, the money went back to him.

Mr Butterworth said: "I would understand if Brian had given me the money and there was something dodgy, but that's not the case at all."

Councillors raising concerns about PPE donations, reiterated that the circumstances were 'very messy'.

Whitehaven Town Councillors Edwin and Gemma Dinsdale, Carla Arrighi and Ryan Redmond issues a joint statement in response to Mr Butterworth's fundraising drive.

"Mr Butterworth's response is a clear breach of ward grant guidelines, which do not allow individuals and businesses to receive grant funding.This is also a breach of the High Consequence Infectious Disease policy which stipulates all payments are to be authorised by the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and signed by two authorised signatories.

"Coun Arrighi was one of two councillors who had delegated powers, the other councillor being Brian O'Kane. Coun Arrighi did not play any part in the decision to award Xtreme Fitness £1,200. As councillors we believe the circumstances surrounding this event is very messy."

Coun O'Kane said all expenditure on PPE handed out by the town council was fully legal and voted through by nine councillors. He added the relationship between himself and Mr Butterworth had also bee declared

He added: "We're proud that we managed to do this at a time of national emergency and we hope that it helped anyone in our community whose life was in any way threatened."