TOWN hall chiefs have softened an increase to registrar charges after cash-strapped couples planning for their wedding complained the hike was causing financial hardship.

Oldham Council had agreed to increase its charges for 2018/19, which saw the cost of wedding and civil partnership ceremonies raised by £79 on Saturdays – a 22per cent increase.

This applied to both external venues along with the Oak Room and Chadderton Town Hall.

Fees set for the Green Room at Chadderton Town Hall had also seen a higher than usual year-on-year increase.

Couples told bosses the price rise had resulted in unexpected difficulties in making payments, as the rise had not been budgeted for and the venue had been booked up to two years in advance.

For some couples this resulted in hardship, the authority stated.

Now the cabinet has agreed to roll back on the increase, and voted to drop charges to £375 on Saturdays, down from the £425 agreed earlier in the year.

Cabinet member for neighbourhood services Cllr Arooj Shah said: “This was triggered because fees that we’ve set in the budget for 2018 and 2019 for registrar service resulted in a greater increase than we’ve done previously, which is about a £79 increase on charges for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.

“It was triggered by feedback that we had had from couples who had booked their weddings in advance and due to the increases when it actually came to paying for the wedding it presented hardship for them.”

The council took the criticism on board, and agreed to look at reversing the decision.

Chiefs also think that reducing charges will encourage more bookings and help generate income for the town hall.

Officers believe that if the fees remain set as they were at the start of the year, they would not be competitive with other venues and may result in a dip in money, rather than a rise.