ANOTHER Bolton law firm boss has spoken out against a decision by the council to give Asons solicitors a £300,000 grant and said he will be taking the issue up with a national watchdog.

Shaun Bowden, partner at Boltons Solicitors in Farnworth, has added his name to a growing list of business bosses who are angry after news of the Asons grant was revealed by The Bolton News earlier this month.

Now, Mr Bowden, who also runs Farnworth-based estate agents Bolton Properties with his business partner Rachel Eckersley, said he is so concerned about the grant and how it was agreed that he will be contacting the National Audit Office — the body responsible for certifying the accounts of certain public bodies.

Mr Bowden, who has been in business in Bolton for more than 16 years, said: “Our local businesses in Farnworth employ eight people. We pay business rates on a number of properties and our staff also pay council tax to Bolton Council.

“When I read the article about Asons in the Bolton News, I was appalled to see that public funds from Bolton Council were being used to fund the operation of another solicitor.

“The article stated that the £300,000 is a grant. My understanding is that that grant will never be repaid by Asons. Furthermore, what security is there should Asons cease trading?” He added: “I have to say I am appalled that public funds can be used in this way, bearing in mind that services provided by local authorities are under severe pressure due to limitations on public spending both nationally and locally.”

Council leader Cliff Morris has already ordered an independent audit into the decision taken by the council, but Mr Bowden is planning to take the issue further.

He added: “I am now inclined to make contact with various public bodies to see what action can be taken. I intend to contact the National Audit Office and make a Freedom of Information Request on this matter regarding how the decision was made, who made it and was it legal. I also intend to contact the Tax Payers’ Alliance.”

The Bolton News understands that Asons will be releasing another statement on the matter in the near future.