Sunday, 22 October 2017

Legal budget cut despite threat of action

LEGAL and professional fees for Henley Town Council are expected to cost up to £15,000 next year.

LEGAL and professional fees for Henley Town Council are expected to cost up to £15,000 next year.

It will be a decrease of £4,000 in the budget from this year despite the lingering threat of legal action over the noise levels at the adventure playground in Mill Meadows.

The council has currently spent almost £8,000, which included land registry and human resources advice, but is expected to fulfil the budget with maintenance works and rent reviews.

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin suggested the amount should be higher.

She said: “We might have several situations coming up, which we don’t know.

“I would say £20,000 for legal fees just to cover ourselves because it may be that thing pop up next year - we all know what they are. It seems sensible to be prepared.”

Town clerk Mike Kennedy said the suggested figure was realistic because costs had come down.

“Rather than trying to predict the unpredictable I suggest we estimate what the fees will be and if there are any unexpected circumstances, that we appropriate from our contingency budget.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said the legal fees for the four years before the current council was elected in 2011 were £275,000 so it had done a “fantastic job” in reducing them.

Deputy mayor Martin Akehurst said it would be “irresponsible” if the council did not budget enough and was in deficit.

Mr Kennedy replied: “It’s always going to be swings and roundabouts - it’s never an exact science.”

The figure was agreed by five votes to two.



ends

LEGAL and professional fees for Henley Town Council are expected to total £15,000 next year.

This is £4,000 less than it budgeted for this year, despite the lingering threat of legal action by a neighbour of the adventure playground in Mill Meadows over the noise levels.

The council has so far spent almost £8,000, which included Land Registry and human resources advice.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s finance strategy and management committee, Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin suggested the budget for next year should be £20,000.

She said: “It may be that things pop up next year — we all know what they are. It seems sensible to be prepared.”

Town clerk Mike Kennedy replied: “Rather than trying to predict the unpredictable, I suggest we estimate what the fees will be and if there are any unexpected circumstances that we appropriate from our contingency budget.” Councillor Will Hamilton said the legal fees in the four years before the current council was elected in 2011 were £275,000 so it had done a “fantastic job” in reducing them.

Deputy Mayor Martin Akehurst said it would be “irresponsible” if the council did not budget enough.

Mr Kennedy replied: “It’s always going to be swings and roundabouts — it’s never an exact science.”

The £15,000 budget was agreed by five votes to two but the decision must be ratified by the full council.

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