INAPPROPRIATE payments were made to staff at Llanelli Leisure Centre, according to a council report, but relate to record-keeping rather than anything untoward.

The report said an internal audit by Carmarthenshire Council which uncovered financial weaknesses at the popular venue was expanded to incorporate staff.

The report to the council’s audit committee said: “The review of staffing matters highlighted a number of serious concerns which need to be addressed as a priority in order to ensure that only ‘bona fide’ accurate payments are being made to staff.”

It added that staff were sometimes not getting sufficient breaks, meaning the leisure centre was not fully complying with the European Union’s working time directive.

The report also said “overpayments” had been made to some gym class instructors, and that there was an arrangement whereby instructors claimed two hours’ pay for a one-hour session — the other hour covering the time apparently needed to set up and take down equipment.

Improvements have been made as a result of the initial audit, and the committee agreed an action plan to ensure further progress was made.

The findings came to light following testing of staff time-sheets, payments, overtime claims and rotas.

Another issue uncovered was an instance of three months of swimming lessons being provided without payment because the direct debit had been cancelled.

Also, vending machines were not always emptied regularly and cafe stock not recorded.

The county council’s budget for the leisure centre was around £553,000 in 2016/17, which factored in expected income of some £959,000.

Councillors on the committee asked about the processes which needed to be put in place to ensure better record-keeping, and sought assurances that the risk of any inappropriate payments was minimised.

Committee chairwoman, councillor Tina Higgins, said after the meeting: “The issue of ‘bona fide’ payments was discussed, as one of making sure records are kept of why a payment is made, rather than any suggestion that payments were not legitimate in the past.

“It should, however, be noted that the committee recognised the substantial work that had been undertaken by the department, which had significantly improved the processes and procedures operated within the leisure centre.”

The committee has requested a further report to ensure the venue was operating effectively.

No disciplinary action has been taken against any member of staff and the council said it did not want to comment further, given the response by Cllr Higgins.