Over £400,000 of Andover Town Council’s finances are still at risk, months after they were advised to open new bank accounts in an audit.

As of January this year, the council had £512,653.29 in a single current account, as well as holding money from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in a separate account, which contained £89,790.83.

Both accounts are above the limit of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which provides up to £85,000 per customer per bank in compensation if the bank fails. If this were to occur, the council would lose hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Budgets and Staffing Committee by former Test Valley Borough Councillor Nigel Long, who asked the meeting: “When can we expect [the council] to comply with what the external auditor is asking [the council] to do?”

Cllr Christopher Ecclestone agreed “entirely” with Mr Long, saying that the council “have to get this done.”

“There’s really no reason these bank accounts should not be set up immediately,” he said, “they should have been set up already! We really have to get this done!”

He continued: “I’m repeating myself, I’ve said this about five times already! I’ve been saying since the past council when Mr Long raised these issues, when the auditor raised these issues.”

At a meeting of the committee in November 2019, the council passed a motion by Cllrs David and Joanne Coole to establish two extra bank accounts, and split the funds between them to reduce the amount of money held in the single current account.

An internal audit in December, which was received by the Council, stated that money in the council’s current account at Unity Trust Bank “remains high and should be reviewed with a view to deposit sums for investment in suitable investment accounts providing a return on the monies deposited.”

Subsequently, at a full council meeting in January 2020, the council approved a plan to have five bank accounts, including two current accounts to hold operational reserves of ~£80,000 between them, an account for CIL money, and two further bank accounts each holding half of the council’s earmarked reserves.

These plans have, however, not yet been put into action. Cllr David Coole said that the Council was “at risk financially at the moment,” adding that they “just need to get them opened.”

Committee Chair Rebecca Meyer said that she found the situation “completely unacceptable.”

She said that the delays were “partially [her] fault, the last council’s fault, the last budgets and staffing chairman’s fault. There really is no reason for delay.”

She added: “We’ll try to get that done as soon as possible.”

Unity Trust Bank said it is “fully compliant with the FSCS and we keep in regular contact with our customers regarding their eligibility for the scheme.

“We have a strong balance sheet, are operationally resilient and have a history of safe, sustainable growth.”