ERRORS in Bury Council's accounts have cost the local authority almost a third more in fees from external auditors.

Problems with the way the council values its property were blamed for the two-month delay in signing off the town hall’s accounts last year.

This delay cost the council an additional £25,430, a 28 per cent hike, for the work by external auditors Mazars.

Director Karen Murray explained that senior staff had to look at the accounts after they were prepared again following feedback.

She said: “The challenge with your accounts last year, was that a lot of issues that arose were technical. Part of the challenge was the amount of things we had to look at, but also the graded staff who needed to look at it.

“There’s likely to be more work that we need to do. I don’t anticipate a problem but there's still a piece of work we need to do.

“There are some significant changes to process here to make sure that the accounts are right the first time. We will talk to officers as that develops."

Technical accounting errors meant that assets were either undervalued or overvalued by hundreds of thousands of pounds each.

Mazars, who signed off the 2018/19 accounts in September, criticised the “worrying standard” of record keeping in the property, plant and equipment department.

But they told the audit committee that the mistakes were “relatively small” given the size of the council’s coffers and said that the bottom line of its balance sheet had not been affected.

Mrs Murray said that the auditors were still working towards the national deadline of July for the current financial year's account despite suggestions that the government could change it to a "more realistic" timetable.

Interim deputy chief finance officer Lisa Kitto assured the audit committee that the council is doing everything it possibly can to avoid repeating any errors, taking a "belt and braces" approach.

She said: “We’ve been through the findings and recommendations in considerable detail. We’ve started work to ensure we have good practices in place.

"We’ve looked extensively with colleagues in property. We’ve been out to tender and we’ve successfully appointed valuers. We’ve been really specific in what we need them to do."