LEDBURY council tax payers will have to wait until the end of March to find how much it cost the town council to hire a barrister during a judicial review investigation which appears to have gone nowhere.

And local electors may also never know for sure whether or not an attempt to recover legal costs was aimed at particular individuals or organisations, or no one in particular, because the town council isn’t saying.

This seems slightly at odds with a statement issued by Ledbury town council chairman, Cllr Nina Shields in November, at the start of the investigation, when she said: “Let us be absolutely clear on this issue. Over the last few years, certain advisory bodies, ex-councillors and councillors mismanaged affairs badly, incurring bills in excess of £200,000 in the process.

“We have asked for an opinion as to whether there is a civil or criminal liability on the part of individuals or organisations concerned and, if so, what are the realistic chances of the council recovering this money.”

But this week, Cllr Shields said the advice to the town council from a Queen’s Counsel was that “there is insufficient evidence to successfully bring a case to recover money from any of the parties concerned”.

However, when asked who those parties were, Cllr Shields said: “No individuals or organisations were identified. The request was to advise whether there was a claim to be made against any individuals or organisations.”

Further details about the hiring of the Queen’s Counsel to help with the judicial review situation, including costs, should be made public next month.

Cllr Shields said: “A public report summarising the situation is planned to be available for the end of March. This has been agreed by full council in closed session and through due process.”

In any case, despite the eye-watering sums paid out by the town council, since it lost the judicial review brought against it by Cllr Liz Harvey, there appears to be no serious fiscal budget shortfall as a result.

When asked about this by the Reporter, interim clerk Mel ab Owain said: “There is no £220k hole. We had large reserves and have replenished much of the cash used from this year’s budget. Next year’s budget will address any remaining shortfall.”