A DIVIDED parish council has agreed to investigate how it made a legal decision which ended up costing it £40,000.

Yarm Town Council has also agreed in principle to approach its insurers to see if it is entitled to any of the money back.

The council lost a judicial review in September 2012 which was an attempt to have Stockton Borough Council’s introduction of pay and display in Yarm High Street declared illegal.

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Since then, there have been accusations that the town council did not properly agree to go ahead with the judicial review at a full committee meeting, but only to investigate the possibility, but the process went ahead anyway.

Other councillors say they would not have continued if they knew the authority was not insured for its costs if it lost the judicial review.

Now members of the Save Stockton South group have issued a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out more about the council’s actions at the time.

Some of that information has been published online and appears to suggest the authority may not have followed procedures correctly.

That led Councillor Chris Johnson, who was the lead councillor involved in the judicial review, to bring the issue up at last week’s full council meeting at Yarm Town Hall.

He argued that if the council had made a mistake, it may be able to claim the money back from its insurers as councils are routinely insured against costs arising from honest errors.

Former chairman, Jason Hadlow, handed a written statement to media during the meeting on Tuesday.

He said: “As a result of Ms Sandra McLeavy, of Save Stockton South, making a request under the FOI Act to Yarm Town Council about the car parking judicial review, and the subsequent reply to that request published via the What Do They Know website, it is clear that Yarm Town Council has acted ultra vires and negligently in their in their conduct of the car parking judicial review and that, as a consequence, unauthorised funds have been needlessly misapplied to the initiative and wasted.”

However, Yarm councillor Mark Chatburn of UKIP, who is also a borough councillor has issued a statement laying the blame for mistakes on Coun Hadlow and Coun Johnson.