Ilfracombe council ‘had not done anything wrong’

Tourist hot spots such as Ilfracombe could benefit from a bookings boost this summer.

Tourist hot spots such as Ilfracombe could benefit from a bookings boost this summer. - Credit: Archant

Solicitor says town council did nothing out of the ordinary as One Ilfracombe Ltd row continues.

THE allegation Ilfracombe Town Council ‘acted illegally’ by not registering a proposed flagship community company sooner has been refuted by a senior solicitor.

The Gazette reported on Tuesday how a row had blown up after Councillor Frank Pearson registered One Ilfracombe Limited under his own name, to demonstrate the council was ‘acting outside the law’.

It came to light just as the council was about to approve the transfer of some £38,000 in government grant funding to the new company, which is intended to lead the town’s neighbourhood community budgets pilot scheme.

Mr Pearson had claimed it was illegal for the council to be discussing transferring public money to a body that did not exist and he had warned the council months ago it should register the company name.

When it didn’t, he registered the name himself, to prove his point.

But David Alcock, a senior associate at Anthony Collins Solicitors, said the council had not done anything irregular:

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“The formation of companies by local authorities is commonplace; our firm recently formed a charitable company for a London borough, which resolved (in advance of incorporation and charity registration) that once the company was set up, and registered, they would pay over funds.

“The proposals have been scrutinised by the legal team at both county and district council levels. There has been no breach of either company law or the statutes governing how local authorities work, to my knowledge.

“If Mr Pearson feels that there has, he should specify in what way he alleges the law has been broken, or stop making inappropriate and unsubstantiated allegations.”

Mr Pearson has said his new company One Ilfracombe Ltd was intended as a non trading asset to make his point and had no bank accounts or any intention of seeking funds from any organisation or entity.

He added: “This has demonstrated the group which purports to be able to run the town as a private fiefdom through a company have little time for due process or a regard for company law, or how councils should operate.”

The council has resolved to write a formal letter to Mr Pearson asking the reasons for his actions. In the meantime, the new community budgets company would be called Ilfracombe Together Limited instead.

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