Stoke & Staffordshire

Rugeley council thief's spending 'hits town's Christmas plans'

Rebecca Mason Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Rebecca Mason spent council money on a spree that included a holiday

A council worker who stole £200,000 and went on a spending spree has hit plans for a town's playgrounds and Christmas lights, the authority says.

Rebecca Mason was jailed for four years on Wednesday after taking the funds from Rugeley Town Council.

The money was stolen from reserves for "unforeseen contingencies" and "future projects", it said.

It added it would be forced to budget to cover services including maintenance work over the next ten years.

Between February 2017 and December 2018, 42-year-old Mason - described by the council as "valued and trusted" - took £218,418 in 242 separate payments.

She spent £18,000 on a holiday, £133,000 on household items and £69,000 on equipment for three horses.

The council said it would now be reviewing plans for "improved play facilities, enhancements to the town's Christmas lights and decorations, and modernisation of facilities at the Rose Theatre".

Mason, whose responsibilities included administering and monitoring the council's financial systems, was dismissed in February for gross misconduct.

The theft was discovered after the employee, who worked for the council for more than ten years, was suspended over a separate matter.

Despite the financial loss, the council said it would continue to provide its current facilities and operate as normal.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing to establish how much should be repaid has been scheduled for 18 September.

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