Brent Council spends £131,999 on the initial Bridge Park summary hearing
PUBLISHED: 07:04 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:56 23 April 2019
More than £131,000 has been spent by council chiefs taking the Bridge Park community to court - with thousands more believed to be ringfenced for a full trial.
The future of the Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre and the public land it sits on in Stonebridge continues to be fought over by the community and Brent Council.
The bill came to light after Brent Labour Party member Robert Nicholas asked Kensal Green's Cllr Jumbo Chan to make a member's enquiry at a meeting on March 22.
The questions related to court costs paid for with public money, and any penalty fees if the council backs out from its conditional sale agreement with Stonebridge Real Estate Development Ltd, a new subsidiary of General Meditteranean Holdings.
Brent Council brought forward a summary hearing against the Stonebridge People's Trust (HPCC), and steering group Bridge Park Community Council (BPCC), in February in the hope of dismissing attempts to restrict the sale. It failed.
The council said all aspects of the transaction with the firms were “bound by a confidentiality agreement so [it] cannot disclose any terms of contract”.
The £131,990.58 is only for the “interim application” and two court hearings.
Mr Nicholas slammed the council's “steam rolling approach”. “This is an outrage,” he said. “It is frankly unbelievable to think that in these times of austerity, the council is signing secret deals and squandering taxpayers' money to fight the local community for Bridge Park – an asset Leonard Johnson and others fought to secure in the first place against a backdrop of rioting in London.”
Jay Mastin, chair of BPCC, said it was “reprehensible” that the council had passed budget cuts of £20.9m and increased council tax to the highest threshold. He added: “We wish to make it clear that it is Brent's residents' money being used to fight a case against the local community. Effectively this puts Brent on the side of billionaire developers and using our money.
“BPCC asks that Brent immediately ceases all court action and the waste of resident monies on these meaningless facades and new signage on the Bridge Park building and
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simply talk to us to come to a settlement that would allow meaningful regeneration and community upliftment.”
Cllr Chan said: “It is a very disappointing waste of taxed payers money, it is a lot of money.
“I asked the council what is the contractual terms (with GMH) and they refused to give that.
“It's a clear fact the council has to speak to the community via discussion rather than through the courts.”
Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council's leisure chief, said the council had “proactively” sought to mediate with HPCC and BPCC adding: “However, the Court has ordered that we provide the Attorney General with notice of the proceedings. This will mean that the council is currently unable to mediate with HPCC until Attorney General advises the council whether he wishes to be involved in this case.”
He added: “Business transactions are commercially sensitive so it's usual in the course of business for a confidentiality clause to be in place. Although the site is council property we are contracting with a private party and they have the right to have their interests protected.”
To donate towards the Bridge Park community visit http://bridgeparkcomplex.com/