Taxpayers foot £12,000 bill to fix damaged church wall - which council failed to insure
PUBLISHED: 08:57 08 October 2020
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Taxpayers have been forced to foot a £12,000 bill to fix a damaged church wall after the town council failed to insure it.
Council funds were used to repair the wall at St Mary’s Church, Attleborough, which suffered severe damage when it was hit by vehicles in two separate incidents earlier this year.
Despite the structure being owned by the Diocese of Norwich, Attleborough Town Council has responsibility over the maintenance of the church grounds.
That includes insuring the perimeter wall, but it was not included on the council’s latest insurance schedule approved in June 2019.
It means the council has had to pay £11,755 for the two repairs, which they must now attempt to salvage from the drivers responsible for the damage.
The situation, labelled “embarrassing” during a council meeting on Monday, has been exacerbated by the fact one of the drivers who collided with the wall did not have insurance.
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The uninsured driver has agreed to repay the costs via a payment plan, but the other motorist has failed to respond and the council will likely take small claims court action as a result.
Responding to a query from a member of the public at Monday’s meeting, mayor Phil Leslie said: “It is a long-standing, legally-held principle that town councils are responsible for the grounds of local churches.
“The reason we have had to pay for the wall is we are responsible, it was not an insured driver that hit the wall, and the wall was uninsured by ourselves.
“We are exploring why it [the wall] was not insured and will be discussing how we can claim the money back.”
Councillors subsequently agreed to accept a payment plan from the uninsured driver, and to pursue recovery of costs from the second driver via small claims court without assistance from a solicitor.
Commenting on the situation, town clerk Gina Lopes said the council’s insurance schedule was considered and resolved annually by all councillors, but that there had never been any direction to add the church wall.
An investigation within the council as to how the church wall came to be uninsured is currently taking place.
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