COUNCILLORS have met this week to discuss the recommendations of an accounting firm which has been called-in “due to inadequate arrangements in financial governance.”

Grant Thornton Limited has made written recommendations to Copeland Council due to its “very fragile financial position.”

One of the issues facing the council’s finances is its late financial statements and value for money conclusions for the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years.

The council also suffered a major cyber-attack in 2017 due to a staffing and skills shortage.

READ MORE: Extraordinary meeting called to discuss Copeland Council's precarious financial situation

The auditor now asks that the council “ensure that the financial plans for 2022/23 and beyond contain sufficient consideration of financial pressures to maintain the council’s general fund reserves at the required level of £2 million.”

They have also called for “robust” arrangements, ensuring the remaining statements are completed.

A Labour spokesman said: "After 7 years of being in charge and standing on a platform of independence and financial acumen; not only have the electorate spoken but the auditor has now as well. It is of little surprise why the mayor opted to delay this meeting until after the elections because it is damning.

“Copeland is only one of half a dozen councils in the country where the auditor is so concerned about the finances it has given statutory recommendations.”

But Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie said: “Copeland Labour are attempting to rewrite history, they left office with the council needing a government bailout of £2.9 million to avoid bankruptcy having left a £13.2 million black hole in the accounts and had over 30 consultants carrying out roles they could not recruit or retain staff for, they did not have a single qualified accountant on the payroll.

Labour said: “The council has still got 3 years' worth of accounts to produce, it hasn't provided a set of accounts on time since he came in. He has run this council into the ground and the people of Copeland have got nothing to show for it"

But Mr Starkie said: “The audit report which is from 2018, is a transparent account of the measures we have taken and continue to make to address over 40 years of Labours financial failure. From a position of bankruptcy in 2015 we have progressed this council, increasing its asset base, it’s self-generated revenue by over £4 million per annum, business rate and council tax collection rates and filled all staff vacancies, importantly for residents we have cut tax every single year and cut fees and charges every year, embarked on an ambitious capital programme including the ground-breaking buyout of Labours financially crippling PFI.”

“We have paid off Labours debts and not borrowed a single penny. We enter LGR with more reserves than all but one of the six district councils and the lowest borrowing of all but one of the six with only the £5m loan Labour left at a cost to the council £15m in interest.

“All this has been achieved without a single service cut since 2015 and millions invested into improvements to services and efficiencies. The key point is in seven years Labour have not put forward a single alternative or successful amendment, they have been happy to sit back see every policy I put forward pass as we fixed the mess they left.”