A PENSIONER defrauded a community fund which provided tea sessions and meals for elderly residents in Sedbergh.

71-year-old Nicholas Cross pleaded guilty at South Cumbria Magistrates Court to taking £1,533.89 from the Gladstone Community Fund between September 2019 and October 2021. 

The court heard the pensioner, of Mary Fell in Sedbergh, committed fraud 'in that, while occupying a position, namely trustee and treasurer, in which you were expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of the Gladstone Community Fund, you dishonestly abused that position intending thereby to make a gain.' 

He was ordered to pay back the money by April 16 and for 12 weeks from January 23, he will have to wear an electronic tag and not leave his home address between 7pm-7am.

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The sentencing was based on his guilty plea and no surcharge was added due to him being 'a pensioner and of limited means and therefore payment of compensation prioritised.' 

Cross ran as a Labour candidate in several South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) elections. 

Cross represented the party in the Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale and last stood in the 2019 SLDC elections. 

Cross lost the ward by a wide margin, coming last with 76 votes. 

He launched a petition in 2016 opposing the introduction of a Local Housing Cap in 2018 and campaigned for those who live in sheltered housing. 

Paul Braithwaite, chair of South Lakes Labour, called Cross' actions 'a disgrace.'

Mr Braithwaite said that Cross left the Labour party when Jeremy Corbyn stepped down as leader. 

Mr Braithwaite said: "He has to come to punishment. I have no qualms about that. He was our candidate for a number of elections, it is an absolute disgrace. 

"He defrauded some of the most vulnerable people in the local area."

Mr Braithwaite said that he would speak to the national Labour party and review the selection process for candidates.

According to Mr Braithwaite, candidates are interviewed by the national Labour party and are then selected for a ward by the local party.