Oval Chalet options email

I sent an email to the Canterbury City Council Democracy team asking what is possible now to change the Oval Chalet decision. Here’s the reply.

Hello democratic team,

As I sure you are aware there is a lot of upset about the sale of the Oval Chalet land in Whitstable. I understand that councillors voted that the contract with Sea Street Development must stand. I feel that there is a lack of information among people who oppose the sale about what may be possible still. Would you be able to help by providing some information?

1) Is there anything the public can now do to trigger another vote to cancel the contract?

2) Can the contract be cancelled any other way by the council? For example a head of department or the Chief Executive?

3) What options are available to complain about this decision?

4) Is the only way to now effect change through the planning process?

5) I have heard judicial reviews and local government ombudsmen mentioned, could you explain how those options might be used to cancel or effect this sale?

I am asking these questions for myself and to pass on to concerned residents in Whitstable.

Dear Joanne,

Thank you for your email, the following reply is sent on behalf of the Chief Executive (see answer below each question). If you need any further clarification let me know.

1) Is there anything the public can now do to trigger another vote to cancel the contract?

Not through our ordinary committee processes. The Regeneration and Property Committee upheld the decision to proceed with the contract at their meeting on 17 September 2015. At the same meeting they commissioned a review by the Chief Executive of the way the decision was taken, which was submitted to them at their next meeting on 22 October 2015. They agreed to note the report.

2) Can the contract be cancelled any other way by the council? For example a head of department or the Chief Executive?

No, counsel advice was sought on whether that option existed and the opinion stated that we have entered into a binding contract. Breaking the contract could result in the council incurring substantial costs. Details of the opinion can be found on our website, along with a range of other supporting information. https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/ovalchalet

3) What options are available to complain about this decision?

There are two, the first being a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, the second being an application to the MoJ for judicial review, although I would add that counsel’s opinion is that a Judicial Review application is out of time.

4) Is the only way to now effect change through the planning process?

It is not the only way for the reasons stated above (ombudsmen, judicial review) but it is certainly one of the avenues open to the public to effect change.

5) I have heard judicial reviews and local government ombudsmen mentioned, could you explain how those options might be used to cancel or effect this sale?

I refer you to the guidance provided for each.

http://www.lgo.org.uk/ – they will investigate the council’s processes in reaching the decision and consider whether we have dealt with the matter fairly and properly. There are a range of outcomes available to the LGO, summarised here http://www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint/possible-outcomes/

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court/applying-for-judicial-review – this amounts to a challenge about the lawfulness of the decision and can result in the decision being quashed if the court so decides.

You might find this guide helpful – http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/data/resources/6/PLP_Short_Guide_3_1305.pdf.

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