CONCERNS have been raised about financial controls at a £4.5 million market and arts centre.

A planned audit was conducted into issues at Ty Pawb in Wrexham, which has previously attracted criticism for how it has been run following a contract dispute with traders.

Wrexham Council has identified what it called ‘serious weaknesses’ in financial procedures and a lack of awareness of the relevant regulations.

At present, the problem has a ‘red’ level of assurance, which means there are gaps in current processes.

The issue was revealed in a report due to go before the authority’s audit committee next week.

The auditors said: “There were examples of a lack of awareness of, and compliance with, financial regulations and other key governance requirements which, although no significant material losses or errors were identified, represent serious weaknesses in financial control.

“There is a need to further improve financial controls overall including making officers more aware of financial procedure rules and other key governance requirements and the need for compliance with them.

“There is a need to further improve the effectiveness of financial controls in respect of cash income, to reduce the potential risk of fraud.

“There was no complete inventory of assets which increased the risk that items could not be accounted for.”

A total of five high priority recommendations have been made to address the issues, along with three which are deemed to be medium priority.

Councillors will also receive further details on an unspecified internal investigation into a separate department.

The unplanned audit, known as ‘Investigation B’, highlights failures which the authority admitted could expose it to ‘major financial loss’, and has also been given a red level of assurance.

The auditors added: “Controls are considered insufficient with the absence of at least one critical control mechanism.

“There is also a need to improve compliance with existing controls as errors and omissions have been detected.

“Failure to improve controls leaves the council exposed to significant risk, which could lead to major financial loss, reputational risk of embarrassment or failure to achieve key service objectives.

“The relevant chief officer has accepted the findings and will respond with a completed action plan to address the high priority recommendation in due course.”

The two reports will be discussed by members of Wrexham Council’s audit committee on Thursday, May 30.