Tuesday 14 January 2014

Preston Manor covenant costs approach half a million

Brent Council has incurred legal costs payable to Druces LLP of almost £170,000 including VAT and disbursements in the legal case over restrictive covenants at Preston Manor School an FoI request by Wembley Matters has discovered.

The covenants forbade any new school build on the land and residents had objected to plans for a new primary school on the site. After a risk assessment the council decided to go ahead anyway and seek a removal of the covenants at the Land Tribunal. Residents then objected to the removal of the covenants at  the Tribunal and a negotiated settlement is in process which if successful would remove the necessity of a hearing.

Druces was instructed by the school but the council agreed to indemnify the school's legal costs so that the borough's families and children could benefit from 'the new much needed school building'.

In addition the council's legal services have spent 142 hours on the case. The response states that officer time in other departments involved was not recorded.

The council refuse to give the compensation costs involved in settling the case quoting legal advice that the information is exempted from disclosure under section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In fact I revealed in a previous posting that according to a reliable source, residents had been offered £303,000 to settle their claim. LINK

This makes a total of £473,000 excluding the hours of officer time but this may not be the end of the matter. The council state:
If the matter is not concluded by negotiated settlement before the hearing, the Council will incur further legal costs and fees for the attendance of expert witness at the hearing.
The failure of Children and Families officers to exercise due diligence over the original proposal is proving very costly.

The full response to my FoI request can be found HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

£473,000 eh, Mr Pavey? Certainly enough to have kept a Mentoring Dept open in a school with a very high proportion of vulnerable kids, kept staff teaching their exam classes up until the most important exams of their lives, allowed good staff to rightfully progress onto the next pay band, paid for an Electoral Reform Society ballot on forced academisation, and still had change for a couple of pints and a fish supper. Would this use of public money be deemed 'Outstanding', 'Good', 'Satisfactory' or just 'Sadly Incompetent' and best swept under the carpet until an FoI request forces it into the light?
'Judge not lest ye be judged', Councillor P.
Keep up the good work, Martin, and congratulations on the hits milestone too.