Saturday, 21 July 2018

Probe into cash deal over road works

A SOLICITOR for Watlington Parish Council is looking into possible legal action against a company that

A SOLICITOR for Watlington Parish Council is looking into possible legal action against a company that has allegedly “done a runner” over the payment of compensation.

Cable—laying work took place in the town earlier this year as part of a solar panel installation project by EcotecWorld at Easington Manor Farm, near Chalgrove.

A company, which the council was told pays a licence fee to use the same name, offered the council a sum of money in return for disruption that would be caused by the roadworks.

But it has now been revealed that the council was told by EcotecWorld’s German office that the firm was “nothing to do with” them.

The council says it has not heard anything for months despite sending several emails and trying to contact the firm by phone.

Council chairman Ian Hill told members at a meeting last week that EcotecWorld “seemed to have disappeared”.

He said: “In December when they met with us they said at the time there’s going to be major disruption.”

Money would be available and the firm suggested a donation to a charity or to benefit the community as the council chose, he added.

Cllr Hill continued: “This was confirmed in January. We got an email back from one of the directors confirming that this was indeed the case and this would happen. This was shortly after the work started.

“After the works were finished we emailed them saying, ‘the roads have been closed for 61 days’. We haven’t had a reply to that letter or indeed any subsequent letters. We’ve tried many times to get hold of them by phone or email.”

“The company [in Germany] said ‘they are nothing to do with us, they are an independent organisation and they pay a license fee to use the EcotecWorld name’.”

Cllr Hill said a solicitor was investigating whether the exchange of emails constituted a contract.

He added: “If what is there looks as though it’s sufficient as a contract to make it worth doing then we’ll have to make a decision to go ahead.

“In their most recent accounts last year their total turnover was £300,000 and their total debt was £2.5 million; it doesn’t look good.”

Councillor Steve Harrod, Watlington’s representative on Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I think they might have done a runner.”

The cable runs from Cuxham into the town from the B480 and along Cuxham Road, Brook Street and Spring Lane.

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