DCSIMG

Council spent £2,500 in Town Crier row

24/10/12   Knaresborough Town Crier Simon Shaw  back on his first official engagement in the Market square,  Knaresborough next to the market cross

24/10/12 Knaresborough Town Crier Simon Shaw back on his first official engagement in the Market square, Knaresborough next to the market cross

The amount of money Knaresborough Town Council spent on a legal wrangle with the former town crier has been revealed.

Knaresborough Town Council spent £2,569 of council funds on legal fees for the employment tribunal which took place in August 2013, a year after Simon Shaw had been dismissed from duty as Knaresborough’s town crier.

Mr Shaw was awarded £570 compensation by Judge John Hepworth, who refused to reinstate him in the role as town crier.

This compensation bill was split between Knaresborough Town Council and the Knaresborough Chamber of Trade, who did not have a representative at the hearing.

The council spent £2,034 on solicitors fees and £250 employing a barrister for the case which saw the council admit unfairly dismissing the town crier in June 2013.

Mr Shaw was first suspended from his duties in August 2012 before going on to be reinstated.

The figures were first requested by the Knaresborough Post under the Freedom of Information Act on August 12 and, after facing several refusals, the Post complained to the Information Commissioner due to the lack of transparency in the spending of public funds.

Knaresborough Town Council’s total budget for the year 2012/13 is over £100,000 and Coun Andrew Willoughby said he doesn’t think the amount spent on the case is excessive compared to the council’s overall spending.

He said: “I don’t think it should ever have really got to that point, but it did, and we were faced with the choice of spending that money.

“I don’t think it is an excessive amount of money considering and I think we were in a a position where we needed it.”

He explained the reason the Town Council delayed the response to the Freedom of Information request was that they were waiting to see if Mr Shaw would appeal the judge’s decision.

Mayor of Knaresborough Coun Carole Reid, who represented the Town Council at the tribunal hearing in Leeds said: “It was as little money as we could spend to ensure that the council was dealt with fairly.”

Deputy Mayor Coun Tony Handley added: “Once we started to go down the legal route there was no alternative but to spend these funds.

“Relatively to the amount it could have been it wasn’t a huge amount of money.”

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