Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 15 August 1930
The Clerk and Conveyancing Fees.
“I wonder what we pay you for. I understood that when you had your last increase you were going to do these jobs free,” said Mr. C. Webster, questioning a charge of £29 by the Clerk for the conveyance of Castle Hill farm at the meeting of the Conisborough Urban Council on Wednesday.
Mr. Webster said if the Clerk continued to charge for such work the Council should do without a solicitor as clerk. It would be cheaper. “It is time we got rid of you, got a clerk on the job, and paid for legal advice.”
The Clerk (Mr. Spencer Baker), said that before sending in the bill he consulted the district auditor, who said such work did not come within the ordinary duties of a clerk. Every clerk in the district made a charge for conveyancing. He had not charged according to scale as it was, it he had, the sum would have been nearly £10 more. It seemed that only his fees and barges were objected to. There were many other things he did which he could charge for, but did not. He had represented the Council at County Court on several occasions during the last few months at the hearing of judgment summonses. Sometimes he had spent the whole morning at the court and had not charged a penny for his services. He had acted in a number of agreements with the County Council and the Electrical Distribution of Yorkshire, Ltd., and with private persona and firms. On four occasions he represented the Council at the hearing of assessment appeals. For all such work he could have charged substantial fees.
“There will be many things I do outside the duties of a clerk that I will not charge for, and I am always at the disposal of the members of the Council. I think there ought to be no objection to a charge of this character. I don’t think any authority denies its clerk, when he is a qualified solicitor I the right to charge for conveyancing, an d think it ought to be borne in mind that as I am a part-time officer, I get no allowance for office expenses. I have recently had to obtain extra clerical assistance because of the volume of Council work, and I shall have to engage another clerk next month.”
Mr. Webster said he objected to the fees charged by other officers, such as the £128 charged by the Surveyor for housing work, but could not. He did not think it necessary for the Clerk to attend court in the capacity of solicitor; other authorities managed without one.
Mr. J. Shelton asked if the Clerk had a copy of his agreement with the Council with him?
The Clerk? No, but it provided that I shall charge for conveyancing.
Mr. Shelton: There were other matters in it that I wanted to see.
The Clerk: You can safely leave the matter in the hands of the district auditor. If he does not think the charge proper he will strike it out.
Mr. G. A. Chadfield, who presided in the absence of the Chairman (Mr. A. Gregory), thought that course should be adopted.
Answering further questions the Clerk said that the Surveyor, as housing architect, was entitled to £6 for every house completed.
Mr. J. Webster: We must pay that whether we want to or not?
The Clerk: That depends on your agreement.
Mr. T. Morgan: Is it possible to have these agreements before us ?
The Clerk: I will present my agreement at the next meeting. I don’t know anything about Mr. Thirlwall’s agreement.
Mr. A. Roberts said the Clerk was entitled to charge for such work and the Council had deeded that he should do it, as it was very much cheaper than giving it to a solicitor. The Chairman closed the discussion.