THE district council has spent so much money on hiring a specialist lawyer to fight gypsy and traveller legal appeals it is asking members to bend its own rules.

Epping Forest District Council has already spent over £11,500 this year hiring Mark Beard for specialist advice related to gypsy and traveller sites and wishes to take him on again for a forthcoming appeal at a cost of £4,750.

If Mr Beard is hired, the council will have spent nearly £17,000 on Mr Beard in one financial year, and it is now asking cabinet members to waive a standing order which usually requires services costing more than £15,000 to go to tender.

The council report states: “Mark Beard is fully conversant with this council's current Development Plan policies, its proposals under the Gypsy and Travellers Development Plan Document and the difficulties the council is facing in managing the expectations of the Secretary of State, those of its residents and being able to bring forward a sound G&T DPD for approval in due course.

“By instructing Mark Beard the Council will be able to put its best case forward at the inquiry without any significant input from officers.”