A WALL of silence surrounds the legal action within Alresford Town Council.

Bill Witchard, a new town councillor in Alresford, has taken action against the council following his and others’ redundancies from the bar at Alresford Recreation Centre.

Mr Witchard used to run the bar with his wife Jane but the facility was shut in March by the council, sparking public anger and also concern over the town council’s control of its finances.

The closure sparked chaos and chairman Lisa Griffiths resigned along with other councillors including Sam Kerr-Smiley, Keith Barrett, Ben Gower and Annie Saunders.

Cllr Witchard is one of five new councillors who were elected in June; the others are Marion Boyes, Stephen Deeming, Russell Gordon-Smith and Andrew Sprott.

The matter of Cllr Witchard and “others” taking action against Alresford Town Council was discussed in an exempt session at the meeting on July 3.

Mr Witchard told the Chronicle: “I do not know if I am allowed to talk about it. I can’t comment as I am now a councillor and you need to speak to the town clerk about it.”

He then said it was for legal reasons that he could not comment, but added: “The council shut the bar. I ran for election and I got voted in and I am trying to get the facilities opened again.”

The most recent council agenda on its website states: “To consider email received from ACAS regarding Early Conciliation: MU001465/17: Witchard and Others vs Alresford Town Council.”

The new town council chairman Margot Power declined to discuss the legal action. Council clerk Karen Ross did not respond to requests for information.

A former chairman of the town council and long-time critic, Robin Atkins, said that Mr Witchard should have disclosed the legal action.

Mr Atkins said: “The Alresford public, like me, are totally shocked by the legal action taken by the newly-elected town councillor Witchard and his wife Jane against his own town council.

“Both Bill and Jane Witchard ran the ARC bar for several years until it was closed as being unprofitable in March 2017.

“I estimate that the ARC bar cost residents in excess of £250,000 and, as related by the auditor, the rest of Alresford who did not use the bar subsidised the bar users.

“I have asked Alresford Town Council to instruct independent accountants to do a full forensic report on ARC bar since it was set up.

“This now needs to be extended to include the latest demands by Bill and Jane. Surely Bill must realise the conflict of interest and he is subject to the code of conduct.”