Friday, 28 May 2010

Council legal bill hits £80k fighting the Montefiore Village Green Application!

As the local Councillors for Sir Moses Montefiore Ward on Thanet District Council (TDC) we have been involved with the HOOT campaign since its formation in February 2007.

HOOT was formed to fight the decision by TDC to sell the Montefiore tennis courts and putting green for housing against the wishes of the local residents.
This has been a long and hard fight against the Council’s decision, which has caused a lot of grief to local residents who did not want to lose their valuable green open space. This land is part of our local heritage and belongs to the people of Ramsgate.
And now to add salt to injury TDC want the tax payers to pick up its legal costs to fight its own residents.

We believe that the £20k bill for the TDC barrister is just the ‘tip of the financial iceberg’.
Additional to the £20k for the TDC barrister are the costs of Council Officer ‘time’ preparing and presenting the case. There were at least two highly paid Council Officers present, and sometimes as many as five, for the five days of the Inquiry, including the Director of Regeneration Services, Legal Officers and the Monitoring Officer.

We would estimate that the total cost of the Montefiore Village Green Public Inquiry to Thanet District Council is at least £40k.

Additional to TDC’s costs are the costs incurred by Kent County Council, the Village Green Registration Authority. Two Kent County Council Officers were present for the five days and KCC also paid for the Inquiry Inspector (also a barrister).
We estimate that the total cost to Council Tax Payers is approaching £80k for a piece of land valued at £45k!

Cllr Michelle Fenner said ‘This is a disgraceful waste of Council Tax Payers’ money. Maybe the District Auditor needs to have a long and hard look at the Council’s books?’

Cllr Alan Poole said ‘Having spent a huge sum fighting the application there is no guarantee that TDC will actually succeed in preventing the land becoming a Village Green.’

Cllr Michelle Fenner and Cllr Alan Poole would like to say a public thank-you to Mike Matthews who did most of the work; expending a huge amount of time and effort preparing and presenting the Village Green Application.................a job very well done!


  1. They didn't lose the people of thanet lost a vast sum of money, down the corporate plug hole. Ramsgate people lost and democracy lost.
    All those council officers probably reside in maidstone or sevenoaks, the don't give a tuppeny damn about demoracy or what local people want.

  2. Surely this bill should be footed by the Councillors and officers who decided to fight the people who pay their salaries. You work for us, remember.

  3. This is a total disgrace and demonstrates what happens when local people are ignored by an "I know best council", we all lose and the only winners are the lawyers. Thanet has less than half the English Nature recommended green open space and what are TDC trying to do, concrete over even more of it. Lets hope that the result is in favour of HOOT when published.
    The recent meeting at TDC which allowed the public to speak on further sites selected for disposal is, I hope, an attempt to return to democracy and they are not just paying lip service. Loss of informal open spaces is a serious social cost to us all.


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