CALLS for North Yorkshire Police Authority's chairman Jane Kenyon to resign were made today after the force's finance director quit his job.

North Yorkshire MP Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said director of finance Paul Adams had been made a "scapegoat" following a damning auditor's report and police authority chairwoman Jane Kenyon should now quit her job.

His comments come in light of North Yorkshire Police confirmation that Mr Adams had resigned from his post on February 8 - the same day auditors revealed "significant weaknesses" in the authority's financial management and accounting procedures.

In their report, auditors said that insufficient information had been supplied to confirm that the significant increase in funds made through the 2003 council tax increase had been properly applied. They also revealed that the authority's reserves had grown to £25million. Earlier this month police authority members agreed a modest rise in the council tax bill of 2.62 per cent.

The rise was a far cry from the 76 per cent hike in 2003 - which was the highest in the country - and last year's ten per cent increase.

Phil Willis accused the authority of using the hike to build up massive balances rather than improve front-line policing.

He said: "I'm sure that this particular officer has been made a scapegoat for the systemic failures within North Yorkshire Police Authority. The audit committee report makes it quite clear that the authority didn't look closely enough at why they made the significant budget hikes. It's more than just about finding a convenient scapegoat, it's about asking what's wrong with the finances within North Yorkshire Police."

Before Mr Adams came to North Yorkshire Police, he was group finance and commercial director of Heritage Projects in York, which runs the Jorvik Viking Centre and offers consultancy advice to other tourist attractions.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire police confirmed that the head of finance, David Chefneux, became acting director of finance on February 8, but would not comment on the reasons for the departure of Mr Adams.

Police authority chairman Jane Kenyon said: "I'm not prepared to comment on the thought processes of Mr Willis except to say that the director of finance is the chief constable's appointment and not the police authority."

Updated: 10:10 Tuesday, February 22, 2005