Councillors must pay back wrongly claimed expenses

Warwick mayor Bob Dhillon along with several other 
district councillors have been ordered to pay back sums of money they have incorrectly claimed in expenses.

In some cases, Cllr Dhillon - who had by far the biggest sum to pay back - claimed mileage for meetings that did not even take place.

All the other councillors in question had small amounts to pay back. But due to the discovery that Cllr Dhillon had claimed £294 over the past five years that he wasn’t entitled to - following an internal audit carried out by the district’s democratic services team - the police were called. However, police said they will not bring charges as they believe the discrepancies were not done deliberately.

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In most of Cllr Dhillon’s cases, the mileage claimed was just two to four miles over a set distance between his home and meetings at the town hall or Riverside House in Leamington.

Other expenses related to meetings the Conservative councillor for Warwick West is said not to have attended or which did not take place.

An audit of other councillors’ expenses - including council leader Michael Doody - revealed small discrepancies over a 20-month period.

These included a £2.70 overpayment to Cllr Doody, some £36 to Cllr George Illingworth who duplicated a claim; a £4 overpayment to Cllr Andrew Mobbs, another duplicate six month claim submitted by Kenilworth councillor Dave Shilton, plus small discrepancies for Cllrs Less Caborn, Bertie Mackay and Cllr Mrs Susan Gallagher.

All have since answered the queries and/or repaid sums paid to them.

But Cllr Dhillon - who is currently suspended from the Conservative party following allegations that he bullied a council officer - feels that he has been particularly singled out for scrutiny.

Cllr Dhillon said: “It is certainly not always possible to take a straight route from my house near Cape Road to the town hall.

“You have to divert along other routes to avoid the congestion which is why mileage can vary.

“On other occasions planning meetings went over for two nights but I didn’t sign in and so officers wouldn’t know I was there.”

Cllr Dhillon, who works as an accountant, admits a few mistakes may have been made over the past five years.

But he believes mistakes have been made on both sides. In one case a larger than usual claim for 76 miles was misread by council clerks and wrongly inputted as 176 miles which he didn’t notice.

Cllr Dhillon says he has apologised and will be happy to explain his actions at the next appropriate meeting.

But he says: “I do sometimes wonder whether I am being targeted although all this makes me more determined not to resign.”