SKIPTON'S outgoing mayor has said there needs to be new 'openness and transparency' at the town council and a 'rebuilding of trust' between councillors and staff.

Cllr Peter Madeley said the town council had made mistakes and had lost 'tens of thousands of pounds' on investigations that had shown it had been doing things it ought not to have been.

There had been a 'lack of governance' and there needed now to be a period of reconciliation between staff and councillors so that the council could get on with the job of giving the people of Skipton the future they deserved.

Speaking at Thursday's annual meeting of the council, which was held remotely, via Zoom, and with acting clerk, Louise Close, Cllr Madeley said being made mayor of Skipton 18 months ago had been the 'greatest honour of his life' and it had been a privilege to serve the town.

He said the overwhelming concern over that time had been the coronavirus pandemic, and his heart went out to all those who had lost loved ones, who were unable to see friends and relatives due to the restrictions, or who had lost jobs.

"We have become a lonely nation, and my heart goes out to all," he said.

He added that there had been 'lack of governance' at the council and that over the last six years, 'hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent on investigations'.

"The outcome is that we have not been doing what we should have been doing," he said.

"We need a way forward to make sure the problems of the past do not happen again. We need to be open and accountable."

He claimed money had been wasted and that the council had a duty to safeguard public money.

"In principle, councillors make policy, and officers try to make these policies work it's all down to partnership."

And he added: "We need to be open and transparent, and where we have failed we must acknowledge our failures and feel better and stronger, which is what the town deserve.

"We can and will do better. We have to have more openness and have to work as a team so we can have the town we deserve."

Over the last few months, three members of staff have left the council, including chief officer, Dave Parker, who left last week under 'mutual consent'.

In August, an extraordinary meeting of the council - held in the town hall with councillors and officers present - was called to vote on a motion of no confidence in the current leader of the council, Cllr Robert Heseltine.

It was claimed Cllr Heseltine had been responsible for disharmony on the council - a claim hotly disputed all members of staff, including the chief officer.

The vote was won by one vote and on Thursday, Cllr Heseltine was replaced as leader by Cllr Alan Hickman.

Cllr Karen McIntyre was voted mayor for the coming year, and Cllr Darren Shaw, who together with Cllr Richard Judge tabled the no confidence vote in Cllr Heseltine, was voted deputy mayor, and should become mayor after Cllr McIntyre.

Cllr Judge had also put his name forward as a potential leader, but pulled out of the running on Thursday.

Cllr Madeley was voted deputy leader, and Cllr Tony Barrett was voted shadow leader.