Thursday 21 March 2019

UPDATED: Celebration as Bridge Park case referred to Attorney General

Campaigners to stop Brent Council from selling off the Bridge Park Complex won a round of the battle today when Brent Council's attempt to thwart the campaigners through a summary hearing at the High Court failed. The campaign has won the right to go to full trial over their claim that the Complex is protected by a covenant.

The judge referred the matter to the Attorney General and denied the Council the right to appeal. This does not mean the campaigners have won the battle to retain control of the site but it is a step forward. The community deserves recognition for their tenacity and resourcefulness. 

I was unable to attend the hearing as I was speaking at a meeting about climate change so please see the Kilburn Times website for full details. HERE

James Mastin's statement after the hearing on video HERE

Read the Judgment HERE  

Full report on the Guardian website HERE


Today, Friday, Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central told the Kilburn Times that she would not like to see the case go to full trial and would like to facilitate a mediation between the campaigners and Brent Council. She hopes to arrange an informal meeting next week. LINK 

There is no information on how much Brent Council has spent on the case so far but it must be considerable (see comments below). If the case can be solved through mediation it would save Brent council tax payers a lot of money that could be used for the benefit of the community.


Anonymous said...

Can we find out how much Brent spent on the services of a QC, a five year call QC and a city law firm?

Philip Grant said...

I have read the judgment with interest. Of particular significance may be the following section from para. 29, drawing conclusions from a previously decided case:

'Necessarily, if trustees are holding association property on trust for the members or for the purposes of the association, the legal estate owners are not themselves the beneficial owners. The beneficial ownership rests with the members, the committee or the association generally. Although this analysis no doubt refers to trustees expressly constituted for that purpose, I see no reason why the same should not apply where the trust is created by implication, rather than expressly. It follows, therefore, that Brent’s primary submission – that the trust analysis is impossible because HPCC could never have been the beneficial owner of the Property – does not succeed.'

The key point over Bridge Park is whether HPCC (representing the local community of Stonebridge) have a beneficial interest in the land, which Brent Council (the 'legal estate owners') want to sell to a developer.

The judge made clear that this was a matter of fact, which needed to be looked at on the basis of all the evidence (although even the evidence which was reviewed at this "summary hearing" indicates that there is a strong case for saying that Brent became the "legal" owner of the land on behalf of HPCC, for the benefit of the local community, and that it did not purchase the land itself, directly for the Council's own purposes).

Brent has wasted a lot of money (it was represented in the High Court by a QC and another barrister) in trying to get the local community's case thrown out on legal technicalities. The judge made clear that, on most points, Leonard Johnson and HPCC have an arguable case.

Perhaps Brent should reconsider its position over selling the land (to a company which appears to be controlled through an offshore tax haven), concede that HPCC / Stonebridge have a beneficial interest in Bridge Park, and avoid the even heavier legal costs of taking the case to a full trial.