Council bosses in Bolton are today facing calls to resign over a ‘secret’ emergency grant of £300,000 handed to a local solicitors firm that posted a £1m loss last year.Asons Solicitors was awarded the grant earlier this month under the Emergency Powers Procedure, used by the authority to take ‘any action on behalf of the council in any cases of urgency’.The meeting at which the grant was awarded to the personal injury firm was closed to press and public. In a statement, the council has said the grant will guarantee that 263 jobs are retained in the town centre for at least the next five years. But local solicitors are outraged by one local firm apparently gaining a competitive advantage through taxpayers’ money. The council refused to confirm the size of the grant but local press reported that the figure is £300,000. The cash is understood to have been intended to assist the firm with its move to different premises in the town earlier this year.With our madam mayor of #Bolton pic.twitter.com/5HG5wkT3C2— Dr Imran Akram (@DrimranKakram) 30 August 2016Council leader Cliff Morris (Labour), who has come under pressure over the award, said: ‘Financial transparency and trust at this challenging time is more important than ever and this is why I am calling for a full independent audit of this investment to reassure the public.’In a statement sent to the Gazette, he added: ‘The council’s investment will be repaid through their business rates, which we estimate to be more than £460,000 and this will be reinvested across the borough. This is on top of the value from retaining the firm in the town centre, which should return £10m to our local economy over the next five years.’This assurance is sure to be called into question however, as Asons has itself stated that the key risk facing its business is a potential rise in the small claims limit. Last week the government announced plans to raise that limit five-fold, a potentially devastating development for the claimant PI sector. Opposition leaders have hit out at the grant. David Greenhalgh, leader of the Conservative party, told the Bolton News: ‘A growing number of decisions are being made by this council under emergency powers. This process should only be used when absolutely necessary.’Other local solicitor firms have also voiced concern, including Craig Morris, a partner at Fieldings Porter and Stephen Crompton, joint managing partner at Russell and Russell.Crompton said: ‘This is extremely worrying. Law firms up and down the country have been subjected to the same challenging market conditions as Asons, so why has it been given preferential funding?’Local UKIP leader Sean Hornby has called on residents to stage a mass protest outside Bolton Town Hall (pictured) ahead of the council’s next meeting at the end of November. Bolton TUC, meanwhile, has today called for the resignation of the officers and politicians at the council ’who have been involved in subsidising Asons while proposing cuts to services for the disabled and other vulnerable members of the Bolton family’.Latest published accounts for Asons Solicitors list the sole director as Kamran Akram. Asons Solicitors Ltd posted a pre-tax loss of £1.14m on annual turnover of £13.6m for the year to 31 May 2015. This compares with a profit of £864,444 on turnover of £15.9m in 2014.Under ‘principal risks and uncertainties’, the director’s report states: ‘The key risks facing the business are changes in UK legislation that impact on the small claims limit.’In 2013 Dr Imran Akram, chief executive of Asons Solicitors, was crowned ‘Business Person of the Year 2013’ at the Bolton & Bury Business Awards. He is pictured above with the mayor of Bolton at the opening of the new Asons office.The flamboyant Akram has also attracted media attention for collecting Lamborghinis.The Gazette has contacted Asons for comment.
WATCH US LIVE Last Updated: 21st May, 2020 06:29 IST Browns’ Landry Ahead Of Schedule In Rehab From Hip Surgery Quarantine has allowed Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry to focus even more on his recovery from off-season hip surgery. COMMENT Quarantine has allowed Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry to focus even more on his recovery from off-season hip surgery.Landry, who opted for surgery in February after being slowed by an injury last season, said on a Zoom call Wednesday that his rehab has gone as well as expected and he’s “a little bit” ahead of schedule.Landry envisions being back on the field in August — assuming players are allowed to return in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.“Rehab process is going great,” Landry said from his Florida home. “It’s just a little difficult obviously, just some of the modality type of things I’ve been doing that obviously with quarantine and everything I haven’t been able to have access to. So that’s kind of been the toughest part of it.”Right now I’m a little bit ahead of schedule, but the most important thing right now is taking it day by day. I can’t predict when exactly I’ll be on the field, whether that’s July, August or September. But obviously my return date is sometime in August.”Landry didn’t miss a game last season despite a hip injury that flared up in training camp. The 27-year-old has never missed a game since breaking in with Miami in 2014 and said he’s determined to keep his streak intact.“That’s one of the goals that I would set out for myself since I was a kid watching ‘Monday Night Football,’” he said. “And it’s still something that’s in the back of my mind. Obviously I want to make sure that I’m going through this process the right way, too, and making sure that I’m healthy enough to be able to go out there and help the team win games and not hurt the team.”Landry finished with a team-high 83 catches for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns last season. In six seasons, he has 564 catches for 6,188 yards and 32 TDs.During the shutdown because of the virus outbreak, Landry has stayed in touch with good friend and teammate Odell Beckham Jr., who had surgery in January for a core muscle injury.“We’ve been Face-Timing,” Landry said. “We’ve been kind of documenting our whole process of recovery and sending it back and forth to each other. Obviously right now, it’s a crucial time in our recovery stages of getting our strength back. The healing process is kind of done. Now it’s time to make sure that everything’s working together.”NOTES: The Browns signed two 2020 draft picks: TE Harrison Bryant and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones to their rookie contracts. Bryant, the John Mackey Award winner last season from Florida Atlantic, was taken in the fourth round while People-Jones, who played at Michigan, was drafted in the sixth round. Landry and Peoples-Jones became friends before the draft and Landry has been impressed with his new teammate. “He has a lot of questions, which I admire about him,” Landry said. “He’s asking me about punters. He’s asking me about the team. He’s asking me about guys on the team. I see already he’s a hard worker. I see that he’s eager to learn.” Associated Press Television News FOLLOW US First Published: 21st May, 2020 06:29 IST Written By SUBSCRIBE TO US LIVE TV