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BREAKING NEWS - Asons £300,000 paid back to the Town Hall in full

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THE controversial £300,000 grant given by Bolton Council to Asons Solicitors has been repaid in full.

The money was returned to the local authority on Tuesday after the council warned the company it would be launching legal proceedings to recover the grant, which was awarded under emergency powers last year.

Kamran Akram, one of the firm’s founders, has paid the £300,000 back personally and the money has gone back into the town centre strategy fund from which it was awarded.

After the law firm ceased trading as Asons last Friday and announced the business had been sold to Coops Law, the town hall’s solicitors confirmed that Asons had breached the terms of their agreement.

A notice to terminate the grant was delivered to Asons on Monday and Mr Akram contacted the council that afternoon with an offer to repay the money, which arrived in the council’s bank account at 4.11pm on Tuesday.

A statement from Bolton Council, issued on behalf of the local authority and Asons, said: “A former director of Asons Solicitors, Kamran Akram, contacted the council regarding the grant of £300,000.

“When he applied for the grant, he had not foreseen the financial situation that Asons now finds itself in.

“Furthermore it is a great regret to him that Asons, the Bolton firm which he founded, is no longer trading.

“He offered Bolton Council £300,000, the full sum of the original grant provided to the company and has made this payment via personal means, as he is no longer a director of Asons.

“Mr Akram told the council that Bolton is important to him and his family. The family have lived in Bolton all of their lives and are committed to the town in all regards.

“We are satisfied that the grant has been repaid in full without having to go through the grant recovery process.”

A KPMG audit into the awarding of the grant is ongoing, with the results expected in June, but the council says that lessons have already been learned.

Constitutional changes to the council’s emergency powers procedure are likely to be formalised next year, but interim instructions have been issued so that no decision is taken under emergency powers without consulting the council’s chief executive, borough solicitor, or treasurer.

Margaret Asquith, the council’s chief executive, added that she felt proper due diligence had been carried out in advance of the grant being awarded.

She said: “I don’t think that our level of due diligence could have predicted this.

“What has happened, and what should give council members some comfort, is that the grant conditions were written so well that we were covered.

“The proof is there — we immediately referred to the relevant clause in the grant and now the money has been repaid.”

The council’s justification for awarding the grant was to keep Asons — and its business rates — in the town centre after they left their former offices in Bark Street.

Cllr Cliff Morris, the council’s leader, says there has been no indication that the law firm would leave Bolton now that the grant has been repaid.

He added that he felt “disappointed” and “let down” that Asons did not contact the council to inform them of the change in ownership.

Announcing the change of ownership last week, Asons said that company founder and CEO Dr Imran Akram had left the firm and that the sale would mean a “fresh start” for its employees and the people of Bolton.

No jobs have been lost in the transition from Asons to Coops Law — which is owned by Irfan Akram, one of five brothers involved in the running of Asons.

The new firm has now formally changed its name from Banks Solicitors Ltd to Coops Law Ltd.


Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

will it been seen as too little too late? The company is tarnished whether they change their name or not.

Would anyone think of using them now in Bolton, i know i certainly wouldn't

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