Shropshire councillors 'staying out of TNS legal dispute'

The deputy leader of Shropshire Council has stressed that councillors are not involved in legal investigations into a grant given to a football club.

TNS received an £80,000 grant from Shropshire Council, inset
TNS received an £80,000 grant from Shropshire Council, inset

Councillor Steve Charmley was commenting on the row over £80,000 which was given to Welsh Premier League champions, The New Saints (TNS), who are based at Park Hall on the outskirts of Oswestry.

The deputy leader said there had been calls for members of the council to step in and speed up the process over whether TNS was expected to pay back the money.

The funds were awarded to put in a new stand to comply with European standards at the club’s ground near Oswestry.

The council maintains that the money should have been paid back to Oswestry’s Joint Economic Board, while TNS says that the money was in the form of a grant, and not a loan.

Mike Harris, the chairman of the football club, has taken to Twitter to accuse councillors of sitting on the fence over the issue.

Today Councillor Charmley said that councillors had no input into the legal issues involved in the dispute.

He said: “Councillors have been accused of doing nothing to speed the process up but there is nothing we can do.

“A legal process has been triggered and so what is happening isn’t the job of councillors, it is an officer job.

“Councillors haven’t had any input and haven’t received any papers. And they should not have as this is a council and a legal process.”

He said he believed the deadline for submissions was this week and that there would then be an evaluation of the submissions and external advice sought.

Earlier this month a councillor left the authority’s Conservative group in protest at the handling of the issue.

Matt Lee, who was elected to represent Llanymynech in 2017, also works at The Venue, the home of the Oswestry based club.

He said his move was partly down to a clash of interests, and partly in protest at the decision from the Conservative-run council to take action against the club.

"It is a measure to remove myself from the situation as I work for at the club, and I want to remove myself until the situation is resolved," he said.

"Shropshire Council is Conservative run so I felt the best course of action was to step away for the time being.

"I don't believe it is the correct decision to take legal action against the club, so my move is partly in protest as well."

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