Hickling hall row: latest

Hickling Barn: centre of dispute

Hickling Barn: centre of dispute - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

Residents in Hickling have been warned that a legal dispute between the village hall charity and parish council could lead to a precept rise of 'hundreds of pounds for each household'.

The claim was made by Harry Purnell, vice-chairman of the Hickling Barn charity, after a county court hearing in which a judge rejected the council's demand for the trustees to release more charity documents to help settle the dispute.

The hall trustees are suing the council for nearly £120,000 which it says it owes them towards the building costs of the Barn.

The council is counter-suing for the return of a sum of about £200,000 already paid to the charity.

Legal costs incurred in the dispute, which centres on the contract between the parties agreed at a time when nearly all the councillors were also trustees, have already seen the precept rise this year from £33 to £148 for a band G property.

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Parish council chairman Sandra Clarke said they had sought the extra documents to try to settle the dispute without the cost of a court case, now scheduled for January - although the trustees argue that supplying the extra documents would have increased legal costs.

Mrs Clarke said: 'We are very troubled by the way in which the Barn team seem intent on wasting large amounts of village money to resist giving information which it is reasonable for the village to want.'

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She accused Mr Purnell of 'scaremongering' over the parish precept and insisted that in the worst case it would stay the same level as this year.

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