Council to demand cash for unpaid bills

THE landlord of Weston s youth cafe could be hauled before a judge over unpaid gas bills.

THE landlord of Weston’s youth cafe could be hauled before a judge over unpaid gas bills.

Weston Town councillors voted unanimously at a meeting on Monday to take action to recover the cost of unpaid utilities bills from Towerpiece, the company which owns the South Parade building where Barcode Youth Cafe is based.

The council pays rent to the company and also pays the utility bills for the entire building, but is reimbursed for two-thirds of the cash by Towerpiece, because some offices are rented separately.

However, a dispute between the landlord and office tenants of the South Parade building has left the council £6451.55 out of pocket.

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At Monday’s meeting, Councillor Chris Kimitri spoke on behalf of Towerpiece during public participation and was quizzed by his colleagues over the unpaid bills.

Cllr Kimitri, whose wife is a director of Towerpiece, asked town clerk Linda Larter why utilities such as heating were left on over the summer which, he argued, meant tenants had to pay for services left unused.

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The well-known businessman was twice warned by Cllrs Keith Morris and Mark Canniford that he could be reported to the Standards’ Board for representing the interests of a private company while also a town councillor.

Cllr Kimitri left shortly afterwards before the item was discussed to attend another meeting.

Cllr Canniford went on to propose that the town council’s recovery procedure should be followed to recover the money, which could lead to the town council taking the issue before a county court judge.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Canniford said: “This one of those funny situations but councillors should be seen to uphold the highest standards.

“You cannot sit at a public council and protect a private company’s interests.”

Cllr Kimitri said: “Let’s not blow things out of proportion as there is no axe to grind.

“The council has to act properly and write to Towerpiece and the company will respond. I am sure things will be sorted swiftly. The company has already paid £2,100 of the balance to the council.”

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