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Council audit reveals €500,000 legal costs

LEGAL action taken by the developers of the site adjacent to Glór Theatre against Ennis Town Council for alleged breach of contract cost the council over €500,000.

The figure was revealed in a statutory audit of Ennis Town Council for the year ended December 31, 2008, due to be put before council on Thursday afternoon.
The audit states that the town council encountered difficulties with regard to land acquired adjacent to Glór for the Ennis Relief Road.
“Despite ongoing efforts to resolve the issues over many years, the matter was referred to the High Court for review. The High Court ruled that compensation of €300,000 was to be paid to plaintiff and that is was discharged in 2007. In 2008 the town council discharged the legal costs for both parties, which amounted to €0.524 million”, the auditor, Thomas O’Callaghan, confirmed.
Ennis town manager, Ger Dollard, responded that the developers of the site adjacent to Glór and fronting the Causeway Link of the Inner Relief Road took legal action against the council for alleged breach of contract.
“A third party made a claim against the council’s title which was preventing the completion of the sale to the developers. The council had no option but to defend its position, and after taking due advice from legal counsel, issued proceedings to the High Court. As a consequence the associated legal costs were incurred,” he added.
The statement also shows that Ennis Town Council had a credit balance of €833,042 on its revenue account at the end of 2008, and a debit balance of €2,688,592 on its capital account.
The combined valuations on land, housing and buildings amounted to €82 million of the overall assets total of €145 million.
Collection of commercial water charges was down by 13%, to 50% of all water charges, during 2008. The auditor noted that while these charges are collected on an agency basis on behalf of Clare County Council, the collection performance was “far from satisfactory”.
The report also showed that the Westbourne Housing Scheme completed in 2008 included eight affordable housing units. A loan of €1 million with the members’ approval was drawn down in July 2008, to part fund the construction of these units.
The auditor pointed out that his loan will be financed by the sale of the units.
“At the conclusion of the audit two units have been sold realising €300,000. Expressions of interest have been received on a further three units and the town council is actively pursuing the sale of the remaining units,” he said.
The auditor also recommended that the level of borrowing by the council needs to be “carefully monitored”, as it stood at €10.107 million at the end of 2008.


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