No fraud at residents’ TARA group

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A RESIDENTS’ group which faced an uncertain future following fraud allegations has been reformed.

St Leger Homes officials were brought in to investigate the books of the Poulton Close Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TARA) following an allegation that money was being taken from the community funds for personal use.

Villagers were invited to a public meeting to discuss the investigation at Poulton Close Communal Hall in Stainforth on October 4.

During the meeting, St Leger Homes’ deputy chief executive Judith Jones confirmed that “the books were in a mess”.

However, despite residents angrily asking where the money had gone, Mrs Jones said the audit investigators confirmed there was no evidence of fraud.

At the meeting she said: “Internal investigators were brought in following a phonecall from a member of the public and allegations of fraud.

“It was found that there were bad accounting practices taking place because money was being spent that the Poulton Close TARA didn’t have. However, the internal auditor hasn’t been able to show there has been any fraudulent activity. It is simply that the accounts book was in a mess and figures were entered incorrectly.”

Residents questioned the findings during a heated debate with Dennis Bloomfield, 76, of Poulton Toft, asking: “How can we trust anybody again after these allegations? It seems like we have just thrown money away.”

When questioned about the times he handled the books Eddy Nesbitt, Poulton Close TARA chairman, said in the meeting: “I have not and never would sign anybody’s signature. I can put my hand on my heart and say I have never, ever cashed a cheque for personal use.”

It was announced at the meeting that the TARA’s committee members, including Mr Nesbitt, had stepped down.

At a follow-up meeting on October 11 a new committee was formed called The Phoenix Group.

A St Leger Homes spokesman confirmed the previous committee had stepped down and that accounts training would be given.

She added that the police was not involved following the allegations.