Pair sue Radio Hartlepool over £10,000 debt

Donna Feeney (left) and Sarah Sumner
Donna Feeney (left) and Sarah Sumner

A COMMUNITY radio station says its finances are “pretty dire” after losing a near £20,000 court battle.

Radio Hartlepool still hopes it will survive after it was successfully sued by two freelance workers.

Andy Brown(left) and Jason Anderson of Radio Hartlepool.

Andy Brown(left) and Jason Anderson of Radio Hartlepool.

It was taken to court by former advertising sales managers Donna Feeney and Sarah Sumner who worked for Bad Girl Media, and provided services for the station.

They took action after the station failed to pay them more than £10,000 owed for three months of outstanding work.

The pair worked for the station from April 2009 to May 2010 after being approached by station manager Jason Anderson.

But they quit last June when Radio Hartlepool was unable to pay three invoices totalling £10,911.93.

Station owner Hartlepool Community Broadcasting admitted owing them money, but claimed the women owed them more than £6,000 and launched a counter claim.

A judge at Teesside County Court ordered the station owners to pay Miss Feeney and Miss Sumner the money in full, plus interest, and £7,500 in court costs after losing their claim.

James Anderson, director of Hartlepool Community Broadcasting, said he hopes Radio Hartlepool will survive despite describing its financial state as “dire”.

The owners have been given 28 days to pay the sum, but can apply to the court for an extension.

During their time at Radio Hartlepool, Miss Feeney and Miss Sumner sold advertising, promotions and sponsorship and received half of the profits.

The station claimed it had a verbal agreement that the women would pay £100 a week in rent for a use of the station’s base in York Road, Hartlepool, and all of its facilities.

But the court found there was not enough evidence to support the claim.

The court also heard that Miss Feeney had offered to work for 25 per cent commission when the station encountered financial difficulties, but nothing was formally agreed.

Radio Hartlepool also claimed that Bad Girl Media was also responsible for replacing three promotional banners that went missing after a talent contest held at the Staincliffe Hotel last year at a cost of £730.

But the judge said that although the firm organised the event, there was no written evidence they were responsible for the banners.

District Judge Susan Spencer said: “There is no doubt in my mind the claimants are entitled to the quoted sum for invoices calculated at 50 per cent commission.”

Addressing the claim of rent she added: “No credible evidence has been produced by the defendants (Hartlepool Community Broadcasting) that there was ever an agreement that the claimants would pay £100 a week for the use of a room and facilities.”

Afterwards Donna Feeney, from Darlington, said: “We are just happy the right decision has been made and justice has been done.”

Sarah Sumner, from Crook, added: “We only wanted what we were owed.”

Mr Anderson said: “Obviously I feel very disappointed at the court’s decision, but we will carry on.”

He added: “We are a community service run by volunteers.

“The finances of the company are pretty dire. This bill was always owed to them, we never denied that.

“The difficulty was in paying. Hopefully the station will survive. It would be a shame if it didn’t.”