SENIOR politicians have been urged to apologise after a document was published which falsely said millions of pounds tax payer money in Colchester had been spent on ice creams and stationary. 

A motion prepared ahead of a council meeting next Thursday reveals a list of what money had been used for had been published on Colchester Council's website, despite containing many payments which hadn’t occurred.

The motion, proposed by the Conservative group leader, Paul Dundas, says the council had stated that in the past year it had spent £2.2million on stationary, £1.1million on ice creams, £5million on newspaper advertising, and more than £1million “on an individual no-one can identify”.

It also includes £880,000 on playground inspections, £847,000 on telephone bills, just under £5million with a Christian charity and £8,646 on oysters.

After queries were raised by the Tory group, it was discovered that figures for at least nine of the 12 months were incorrect and that many of the payments “did not in fact occur".

This led to the removal of the figures from the council’s website and an apology to councillors from the council leader, David King.

Gazette: Motion - Paul Dundas, the leader of Colchester Council's Conservative groupMotion - Paul Dundas, the leader of Colchester Council's Conservative group

'We look like liars'

The previously published list claimed the Anti-Loo Roll Brigade, a Colchester-based organisation which supports vulnerable people in the city, had received more than £245,000 of public money.

Its founder, Peter Dutch, was disappointed to see the organisation, which is independent of the council and is not taxpayer-funded, listed.

He said: “We’ve always said we don’t get any funding from council tax and we work very hard to cover our costs ourselves and I’m concerned this has made us look like liars.

“We’ve received some funding from the council for some areas like fuel poverty and community projects which have all been delivered successfully, but council tax money doesn’t support our new centre which we’re using to improve the lives of local children.”

Gazette: Founder - Peter Dutch, pictured with his wife AnnFounder - Peter Dutch, pictured with his wife Ann

Mr Dundas’ motion calls for an apology to taxpayers and every recipient of payments where incorrect information was published, as well as a review of the workload of the authority’s operational finance team.

Despite the misinformation, Mr Dutch doesn’t demand an apology from the council, acknowledging: “They made a mistake which they’ve admitted and rectified but I don’t appreciate our name being bandied about alongside huge figures.”

Colchester Council was approached for comment.