Wedding venue shuts amid row with town hall; COUPLES CLAIM TO HAVE LOST THOUSANDS IN DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS.
A WEDDING venue has closed amid an ongoing row with the council over unpaid legal fees and accusations of being a 'problem tenant.'.
La Belle Epoque left its Knutsford premises in June, with brides and grooms claiming to have been left in the lurch.
Couples claim to have lost thousands of pounds in deposits and payments for weddings that will no longer go ahead at the Cheshire venue.
But bosses at La Belle Epoque say they have been the victims of a 'sustained campaign' by Knutsford town council to eject them from the King Street building, and that most of the couples affected have accepted their offer of an alternative venue.
La Belle not owe PS40,000 in Matthew Epoque The council, in a statement posted online, said the action was the 'culmination of four years of problems as tenant.'.
Bride-to-be Lynne Hope and her fiance Benn Farran were due to tiethe-knot at La Belle Epoque on Saturday, July 31.
Lynne, 41, and Ben, 42, said La Belle Epoque 'ticked all the boxes' and booked their wedding in January for an agreed price of PS9,600.
The couple suspected something was amiss when the venue asked them to pay their deposit and first instalment via bank transfer, rather than with a credit card, on March 12.
It later emerged La Belle Epoque had entered into a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) on February 19 to pay off a large debt to HMRC and other creditors.
Lynne and Ben, from Macclesfield, claim La Belle Epoque still accepted another payment on March 12 - almost a month after the company had entered into a CVA. The couple then received an email from the company citing issues with Knutsford town council, asking whether they would like to have their wedding at another Knutsford venue with links to La Belle Epoque, Larkspur Lodge.
While Larkspur shares the same director, Matthew Mooney, it operates as a separate company.
They were told their wedding could no longer go ahead at La Belle Epoque, leaving them with no choice but to look for another venue.
"We're lucky because we have wedding insurance but we know from a Facebook group that a lot of people didn't and are now thousands of pounds out of pocket," said Lynne.
The council claims to be owed PS40,000 in legal fees by La Belle Epoque - yet Mr Mooney disputes this.
Epoque does the council legal fees Mooney, La Belle director Adam Keppel-Green, town clerk for Knutsford Town Council, said: "La Belle Epoque Limited does not now owe the town council any rent - however, it owes PS40,000 in legal fees incurred in us enforcing the conditions of the former lease."
Mr Mooney, director of La Belle Epoque, said: "La Belle Epoque does not owe Knutsford town council PS40,000 in legal fees.
"This amount is largely made up of fees incurred by the council in an attempt to defend against a claim originally made by La Belle Epoque eighteen months ago. The original claim was made against the council in respect of their failure to maintain the exterior of the Grade 2 listed building as per the contract (to the value of PS20,000). They have since run up legal fees at the tax payers' expense in defending against this legal claim."
La Belle Epoque left 60 King Street on June 16, according to Knutsford town council's website.
of a 'sustained Knutsford Facebook peopl"La Belle Epoque does not owe the council PS40,000 in legal fees Matthew Mooney, La Belle Epoque director
La Belle Epoque in Knutsford