AN investigation into the handling of Kington Town Council's accounts has revealed serious financial and governing weaknesses, writes ANITA HOWELLS.

The unusual step by district auditor, Richard Percival, uncovered seven areas for action on issues ranging from the management of Millennium mugs to the disposal of a mower. An interim report was presented at a council meeting on Monday night.

He said the Millennium mugs transaction, which cost £1,510, had caused 'significant disquiet' but payment had not been unlawful and no formal action would be taken.

The mower had been disposed of without authorisation.

Mr Percival expressed concern that the matters had not been investigated as part of the council's scrutiny function.

Accepting the report, Mayor Robert Hussey called for all workings of the council to be kept to the chamber. He asked for personalities not to become involved and reaffirmed that council members work together for the benefit of the town.

"With this in mind he has agreed to publish the district auditor's report and assure the townspeople of Kington that things have improved and will continue to improve," said clerk to the council Esther Rolls.

She explained that before the report arrived at the council both the previous and current mayors had put in place most of its recommendations.

"The report raised issues relating to matters prior to 2001 when some actions by the council had not always followed the correct procedures and that matters approved, often with the best intentions, have gone sadly awry," she added.

Mr Percival said the audit had been formally requested by a Kington councillor and a member of the public. The council will decide on a plan of action with a progress review included in the 2000/01 statement of accounts.