The Oval Campaign now awaits a decision by a High Court judge as to whether the Claim (in the name of the Whitstable Society) against Canterbury City Council can go forward for a full hearing. The Claim was lodged on 17th February. For reference only, read it here.
Most importantly, the Council’s Summary Grounds of ‘Defence’ was lodged on March 11th (http://preview.tinyurl.com/CCCDefence) and the Campaign’s ‘Reply’ to that Defence was lodged on March 24th (http://preview.tinyurl.com/Oval-Reply-toDefence).
The latter was necessary as the Defence contains no evidence and was misleading and thus had to be corrected by the barrister.
The Defence referred to CCC’s Land Registry application form FR1 of 2002 signed by the then chief legal officer Mark Ellender stating that the land was held as legal Open Space amenity land. The form itself was discovered by a campaigner in March and as CCC did not supply it to the court, it was attached to the Reply for the judge.
City Councillors reading this update should compare the situation stated in the Defence with the contents of an email that they received from CCC’s Chief Executive on 15th March 2016, which states that the application was signed by a junior officer following the instruction of his boss, Mr Wilson Sharp.
However the truth is stated in Para 24 of CCC’s Defence issued 4 days before on March 11th 2016 : ‘…the application made in 2002 for the Site-to be registered at the Land registry. This refers to the Site being held as open space amenity land. This expresses the view of the Council’s then solicitor, Mark Ellender, at that time, following the view of his predecessor Mr Wilson-Sharp in his 1990 memo and his 1996 letter referred to above.’ Mr Wilson Sharp took early retirement in 2001’.
All this gives renewed context to the statement of Mr Ellender to the Executive and the public in Oct 2013: ‘there is no indication that it was to be used as public open space’. In other words he stated that despite the existence of the FR1 signed by Mr Ellender when the chief legal officer (not to mention all the papers from predecessors held secretly in CCC register). This is all detailed in the chronology at the end of the Reply to the court.
It appears to speak volumes about CCC’s case that both the CCC Defence and the Reply have not been published on www.canterbury.gov.uk/ovalchalet . The CEx letter to councillors gave his, apparently, personal views on a crucial piece of evidence (the FR1) that is lodged with the court whilst telling them not to comment and not giving them access to either the Defence or the Reply.