COUNCIL officers wrote off a £62,000 ‘bad debt’ but are unwilling to name the company which owed the money.
Cllr Les Ford, executive member for resources on Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), agreed to the £62,193.09 debt being wrote off on July 25 following a request from finance officers.
Julie Gill, director of resources, explained that the council had tried to recover the money but had been unsuccessful.
She stated: “The legal section has endeavoured to recover the monies owed but despite their considerable effort, they advise that the debt should be written off.”
No information about how the debt was accrued or who owed the money was made available for ‘confidentiality reasons’.
Mrs Gill said the only other option would be not to write off the debt but that had been discontinued as all reasonable attempts to recover the debts have been made.
Handbridge resident John Murray subsequently asked CWaC for more details under the Freedom of Information Act.
He wanted to know what the debt related to, how the debt was incurred, the period over which debt was incurred, the type of debtor, whether the council had obtained a county court judgement (CCJ) in respect of the debt and the name of the debtor.
But his request was only partially successful.
In response, the CWaC solutions team confirmed the debt related to the non-payment of rental income for a warehouse the company leased from the council between June, 2010 and March, 2011
CWaC confirmed no CCJ had been sought against the debtor but refused to the name the company involved.
The response said: “The company who the lease was with carried out commercial activities in the open and competitive market.
“They will have competitors who may use the information to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the third party.
“The information relates to the way that the third party conducts its business and is therefore commercially sensitive.
“ If the information is disclosed, there is a significant and likely risk of prejudice to the third parties financially and in respect of their business interests and ability to compete in the open market.”
But Mr Murray told the Leader he was unhappy with the reason for refusal and was planning to appeal to the Information Commissioner.