Wallingford Town Council could make staff redundant to help recover the bad debt which is owed.

Members of the Finance and Property Committee considered the draft estimates and budgets for 2021/2022 in a council meeting on December 7.

In this meeting the Town Clerk voiced her concern regarding the recovery of the substantial outstanding debt that was owed to the council, she advised not to try to cut costs from the budget as this would put pressure on the general reserves.

Councillor Marcus Harris said that if this bad debt was not recovered soon it could wipe out the town council’s general reserves.

He added that chasing the bad debt could take up to two years with Covid and cost in the region of £20,000 in legal fees. A rise in council tax was also suggested to recover debt.

The Mayor, Lee Upcraft advised that another option was redundancies. Councillor Colin Dolton suggested that the council should not be considering new posts in the budget at the moment if it considered redundancies and advised a delay.

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Councillor Ros Lester stated that she had not realised that one of the jobs had been advertised and she supported Councillor Dolton’s suggestion of a delay in appointments for six to 12 months. It was also suggested job evaluations for current posts should be carried out as there is no assurance that redundancies would help.

Councillor Deborah Whelan said she believed the recently advertised job for a Tourism, Business and Community Development Manager was to help generate income.

The council decided to defer the employment of two extra members of staff and that the post of Tourism, Business and Community Development Manager be the first to be reconsidered when appropriate.

There was also a discussion over the costs of restoring water to the Fountain in the Market Place, but it was concluded that is too costly.

However, the Mayor suggested the council pay a sum of £500 for advertising and promotion to the Wallingford radio station and pay for this upfront then review whether to continue this support next year.

The council decided to add £100,000 to the Budget for next year, increasing the Precept whilst also adding in the amounts for the Beacon Project and Wallingford Radio.

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