Councillor is tightlipped over £1million business debts

PUBLISHED: 12:10 16 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:23 02 July 2018

Hatfield Villages borough councillor Tara-Mary Lyons. Picture: Labour

Hatfield Villages borough councillor Tara-Mary Lyons. Picture: Labour

Labour

The borough councillor for Hatfield Villages, Tara-Mary Lyons, has come under scrutiny after business debts of nearly £1million have come to light.

The Labour councillor has been director of several companies working in market research, including her present company Indiefield.

A previous company that has now wound up its affairs, The Independent Fieldwork Company Ltd, still owed 15 creditors a total of £990,822.42 as of January 29 2018.

The Independent Fieldwork Company Ltd was incorporated on August 11 1998, with Ms Lyons as co-director and secretary.

The company gave notice of entering a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) on March 29 2010.

A CVA allows a company with debt problems, or that is insolvent, to reach a voluntary agreement with its creditors about repayment of debts.

At that time, the company noted a debt of £599,458.92 to HM Revenue & Customs, among others.

The CVA promised repayment ranging between £3-8,000 per month over five years.

By 2015, however, the CVA had been deemed a failure and The Independent Fieldwork Company Ltd was ordered to wind up.

According to Companies House, the company’s annual return is overdue, with the last one made in August 2014.

In addition, the councillor has five unsatisfied County Court Judgements in her name, owing a total of £20,706 in cases between July 5 2012 and July 26 2015.

Tara-Mary Lyons has been borough councillor for Hatfield Villages since 2017, becoming the party’s first ever Labour councillor in that ward.

In April 2018 she was nominated as the Labour parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield.

However, the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) announced on May 4 that they would not endorse her nomination.

The announcement came the day after Cllr Lyons narrowly missed being elected as town councillor for the Villages ward of Hatfield, by just 36 votes.

The NEC declined again to comment this week on any aspect of its vetting process at the time of her parliamentary nomination, but reiterated its decision not to endorse her in May.

Cllr Lyons declined to comment on any of these business matters, but says she fully intends to continue her work as councillor.

She added: “I would like to thank the local Labour Party for all the support they have given me, and I wish them all the best in the future.

“I will continue to support and campaign for the Labour Party so that together we build a country that works for the many, not the few.”

Cllr Kieran Thorpe, leader of Welwyn Hatfield Labour, said he could not comment on her selection as a borough councillor, as he had not been part of that process.

Asked whether he supports her as a councillor on a personal level, he said yes, adding: “Tara’s an excellent councillor who works hard for local people and I’m sure she’ll continue to do that.”

Clarification

After this article was published we were informed that in fact the County Court Judgments were all satisfied and paid in full on December 15, 2016. Ms Lyons has also explained that Independent Fieldwork Company Ltd entered into a CVA in 2010 after the businesses of a large number of its clients folded in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. The company traded for five years under a CVA during which time Ms Lyons worked with creditors, notably HMRC, to try to save the company and jobs.

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