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Abandon Hope at Fylde

This is a very sad week for counterbalance.

It's the week we came to the conclusion that overall, Fylde Council's officer class is no longer fit for purpose.

In our opinion, only a wholesale shake-out and reform at the highest levels can now restore confidence in what was once a lovely little council that worked from common sense and common humanity.

Over the last week we have been told  of events which, if true, represent behaviour by  Council officers that is as bad as it has ever been our misfortune to hear.

There was already evidence of manipulation, deception and deceit a-plenty that we have catalogued in these pages as the Melton Grove scandal has unfolded.

There is now enough smoke emanating from Fylde for us to believe that officers at the highest level in Fylde Council have all but abandoned their duty to the Council as a whole, and have taken to serving the majority party. They appear to have forgotten they have an overriding responsibility to the public they serve. To quote one of our readers "They seem out of control"

We're not saying all Fylde's officers are tarred with this brush.

They're not.

We know some very good officers who still remember how things should be done.

And we know good officers that are shamed and embarrassed by what is being done with Melton Grove.

There is so much anger on this matter - which, as far as we can see, seems to be driven by the Chief Executive personally - that we're now getting information about what's happening from multiple sources at the same time.

(We usually try to get the definitive written source for our information, or we get two separate oral sources before we publish. But at the moment, information is deluging us from all sides - and for which we're very grateful to our correspondents).

Not a day goes past without more revelations being made to us.

And we have now come to the view that Fylde has become so institutionally deceptive and riddled with doublespeak from the top down, that it needs fundamental renewal.

What is it that has happened to push us over the edge in this view?

Well, our story begins with a letter sent by Cllr Liz Oades to Fylde's Mayor Cllr Howard Henshaw.

We had a copy leaked to us by a friend.

In the letter Cllr Oades refers to the fact that the minutes of the last Council meeting (which include a scrutiny committee reference on the matter of Melton Grove) have not yet been agreed, but the disposal of Melton Grove appears to be going ahead even before they are.

She also pointed out that there was a notice of motion about Melton Grove that the previous Council meeting had failed to debate, and that both these issues were due to be debated at the next Council meeting on 25 July, but the Officers plan to complete the transaction before the Council can debate the matter.

She goes on to say she had been "...advised that the Directors [of the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association] have taken on themselves the power to amend the Articles of the Association in relation to Directors, and removal of Directors. I question whether they have the Council's authority to do so and whether the Council is prepared to secede this power to the Directors. To allow the Directors to remove themselves from the control of the Council and to allow them to remove a Director unchallenged is, in my opinion, treating the Council with contempt. The Council is the supreme authority; it has both a right and a duty to debate the motion about disposal of Melton Grove."

She went on to tell the Mayor that in her view, the Council must exercise its control in this matter, and the Mayor had a responsibility to ensure that it did so.

She also said he had a responsibility to ensure that both he, and the Council, were not insulted and treated with contempt.

We couldn't agree more.

We understand Cllr Oades went on to ask  the Mayor to require an undertaking from officers that no irrevocable steps would be taken in relation to the disposal of Melton Grove and the Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association before the next Council meeting (due on the 28th July) or, alternatively, that an extra ordinary meeting of the full Council would be called before the date at which the Directors can conclude the actions they propose.

The Mayor took a day or so to consider the position, then went to see the officers to seek the undertaking that Cllr Mrs Oades had requested.

We believe he was absolutely right to do this.

We understand there was a delay in the Chief Executive's reply, and we only have third-hand allegations of the exchange between the two parties, but with that caveat, we heard it went something like this.....

There was talk of the meeting to effect the sale of CLHA being on 13th July - so in order to have the Council meet to debate the matter, a special Council would have to be called before then.

Calling an ordinary Council Meeting requires three clear working days notice.

The day *after* the last day on which such notice could be given, the Chief Executive replied to the Mayor (Cllr Henshaw).  We understand the Mayor was told....

  • It was now too late to call a special meeting of the Council before the date at which the transactions on Melton Grove were due to take place.
  • As far as the CE was concerned, the decision to sell was legal and he wasn't going to have a special meeting about it before the Council of 25 July.
  • Nor would he halt or postpone the disposal process because to do so would be "unfair" to the other parties to the transaction.
  • The matter had been debated at Council in February and he cited a rule which says council cannot re-consider a decision it has made within six months of the first decision unless eight members from two political groupings sign their assent to such a discussion.
  • The Notice of Motion would not be on the Council agenda for 25th, it had simply been entered in the Notice of Motions register.

So for all those reasons, the Chief Executive declined the Mayor's request to hold a special Council meeting.

That is an absolute disgrace.

The Council's Constitution sets out the position for special meetings. It says:

3.4 Special Meetings
Special meetings can be called in four ways:

  • 3.4.1.1 By the Mayor at any time;
  • 3.4.1.2 By a resolution of the Council;
  • 3.4.1.3 By the Chief Executive after consultation with the Leader of the Council
  • 3.4.1.4 By any five members of the Council if they have followed the procedure in 3.4.2
  • 3.4.2 If five or more members want to call a special meeting, they must give a written request for a special meeting to the Mayor. If the Mayor refuses to call a meeting or fails to call a meeting within seven days of the written request, the five members may call a special meeting themselves.

We further understand the Chief Executive suggested the Mayor risked being accused of being "partisan" (Yes, Really!) if he was not careful in the matter of calling the meeting.

And all the while this was going on, the Council's Solicitor was said to be in-communicado at home, so he could work on the Melton Grove sale documentation without interruption. (We know this because several Councillors of our acquaintance had tried to contact him, and told us so).

What picture does this situation paint for you, Dear Reader?

Do you see an administration that is working at full speed to bring about the sale and at the same time throwing spanners in the works of whoever questions what they are doing?

But it gets worse.

There is  story circulating amongst Councillors that Cllr Mulholland, (Chairman of the Community Focus Scrutiny Committee) had, at his last meeting, expressed concern about the procedural aspects of the Melton Grove disposal, and said he would like the matter referred to the Scrutiny Committee to see what lessons could be learned post-mortem the decision.

We understand an FBC officer said that would not be appropriate, and they didn't think the Chief Executive would agree to its being referred to Scrutiny.

Yes really! (Again!)

We know Councillors of old who would have promptly reminded that officer in no uncertain terms, which was the tail, and which was the dog; but we gather Cllr Mulholland was more gentle and simply said he wanted it bringing to Scrutiny.

We're told the officer consulted with the Chief Executive and responded that the Chief Executive did not want the matter considered by the Scrutiny Committee.

Yes really! (Again!)

Under this awful Cabinet System that was imposed on an unwilling electorate by  former Commissar Coombes, a Scrutiny Committee is supposed to be the Council's watchdog. It replaces the scrutiny that was given to all decisions by the full Council meetings of old.

Like a Select Committee in Parliament, scrutiny looks into the detail of things and reports on what it finds for the benefit of all Councillors.

Quite frankly it's not up to any officer, (the Chief Executive included), to tell a Scrutiny Committee what it can and can't consider.

To do so undermines the whole purpose of the scrutiny process.

But we're not overly worried on this one.

We know Cllr Mulholland of old, and we know his ability. He is not the sort of person to be bullied (We've seen him in action under far more pressure than could be applied by anyone presently working for the Council), and he's definitely not the sort of person to be told he "can't do" something.

So we expect it at Scrutiny in due course.

And we've also been very pleasantly surprised by the Mayor in this matter as well.

Cllr Howard Henshaw - in his first 'trial' as Mayor - has come out with flying colours.

Despite the prevarication thrown in his path, he remained steadfast in his requirement to have the Full Council to debate Melton Grove's disposal before it took place. 

He maintained his call, and provided the Chief Executive within the eight signatures said to be necessary for the meeting, and also to debate the Notice of Motion from Cllr Silverwood.

We understand that late on Friday, his view had prevailed, and an agenda was published for a Special Council meeting on Monday 18th July.

We salute and him for his achievements, and congratulate him on his integrity.

But he absolutely shouldn't have to go through hoops like that.

The Mayor has a special place in the hierarchy of the Council. He is the most powerful person in the Borough. He is the Queens representative and in his own Borough, he takes precedence over anyone except royalty.

It's not up to hired hands to throw spanners in the workings to frustrate him. They are there to do his bidding, and should remember that.

But then the thunderclouds gathered.

We heard that Cllr David Eaves had spoken with the Mayor and asked him not to call the Special Council meeting.

We wonder what it is that (at least some elements of)  the ruling group and the officer administration have got to hide, that they so desperately don't want a Council meeting to discuss it.

We're told the Mayor responded to Cllr Eaves by saying he had received approaches from members of ALL the political groupings on the Council - including some Conservatives - to ask what was going on and to have the debate on it at Council before the matter was concluded, and as far as he was concerned, in those circumstances, it was the right thing to do.

Bravo!

We had hoped that Cllr Eaves would be a breath of fresh air as Council Leader - but the smell coming out of Fylde at present is very much like the one we're used to smelling from the past.

Pretty foul.

Then on Friday afternoon, we heard that the Councillor Louis Rigby the Magnificent had received his 'Five Day Notice' from Ian Curtis

Mr Curtis is the Company Secretary for Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association. (He is also - with something of a potential for conflict of interest - the Council's Solicitor who was working from home to finalise the documentation for disposal. He is also the Council's Monitoring Officer who is separately charged with ensuring lawful compliance in all the Council does).

The Notice sent to Cllr Rigby requires him to transfer his share to Miss Patricia Fieldhouse (who still Chairs the CLHA even though she is no longer a Councillor), in accordance with the resolution of the Directors made on 27 June 2011.

We understand this came about because  - as we set out in 'Melton Grove: Plumbing New Depths' - Dim Tim's faxed-from-holiday signature has been added to those of the Directors who actually attended the meeting to give the 75% majority needed to change the rules that can, under Company Law, oust Cllr Rigby.

That's quite apart, of course, from whether the Directors (who to date have been exclusively appointed and removed from office by meetings of the Full Council) can act outside the control of the Council in this way.  (The twists and turns that are being made to bring this disposal about are quite appalling to watch).

We understand Cllr Rigby, steadfast as ever in his disagreement with what is happening, has no intention of handing over his share to Miss Fieldhouse.

This probably means that - if the resolution of 27 June says what we expect it to say (once it is publicly available) - the Company Secretary (Mr Curtis) will call another emergency meeting and effectively sack Cllr Rigby as a Director in order to get control of his share and enable it to be sold to the developer who is buying the Company.

We now hear that meeting is probably going to be held on Wednesday 13th or Thursday 14th July, and Cllr Rigby will not even be allowed to attend and speak at the meeting that will attempt to dismiss him.

So it now looks as though the Mayor and the Council are still to be treated with contempt and the disposal will take place even before the Extra-Ordinary meeting of the Council on Monday 18th July.

Following that meeting, it seems the plan is to transfer those shares to "the Council" and for "the Council" to then decide to sell the shares to the developer.

But in the crazy world of Cabinet Government, "the Council" in these definitions is not - as one would expect - a decision made by all the new Councillors we elected, but it will be a decision made by either the Cabinet or, quite possibly, just by the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Development - both of whom are now able to act as "the Council."

Those new Councillors who thought they were elected to debate issues of importance to their electorate, and to be part of the collective democratic decision-making of the Council, are in for a bit of a shock, and they're going to have to make an early decision whether they vote as their conscience and electorate would want them to vote, or whether they will become 'party voting fodder.' with their heads down and their hands up whenever they are told to adopt that position - as the last administration did.

We can say that will be the case partly because we know of an email from Cllr David Eaves to all the Conservatives, calling them to a  Group Meeting on Monday (tomorrow) evening because, he says "there is some considerable political manoeuvring going on involving the opposition which I will explain in full at the group meeting. Again I stress that it is vital that all members attend the Town Hall at 1900hrs. on Monday".

It's not 'political manoeuvring' Cllr Eaves, it's trying to stop decisions affecting the community being made in secret  behind closed doors in group meetings where the public can't see what's going on. It's called openness and transparency. It's called open representative democracy, and that certainly cannot be based on group decisions enforced on threat of expulsion from the party.

And in any case, there should not be an 'opposition' at all.

There should just be councillors - elected for their views by their electorate.

We also remind you that those you call the  'opposition' in this matter are not the Judas' ready to sell out their trust for a developer's thirty pieces of silver.

That's the path you seem intent on following.

But the plot thickens even more. We know the Chief Executive has provided supporting documents for the Conservative Group's use (but not, apparently, for the information of other Councillors).  In an email dated  Friday he wrote:

From: Woodward, Phillip
Sent: Fri 08/07/2011 10:34
To: Eaves, David (Cllr)
Subject: Melton Grove

David
You may be interested, ahead of your meeting on Monday, in reading / circulating the attached chronology, which was provided for the Portfolio Holder when he considered the report on the share transfer agreement in February this year (the matter that was called in & referred to Council in March). 

Also attached is a copy of the minutes (with list of Members who were part of the decision) of the Policy & Service Review Scrutiny Committee from 2007 which recommended the disposal of Clifton Lytham.

Regards, Phil

We have taken the Minutes and much of his "Chronology" apart in the next column - so those that wish to do so can see a perspective that we think is less 'partisan' -  to use the Chief Executive's own words.


MINUTES FROM 2007

As we reported in 'The Great January Sale' back in 2007,  as part of the former Commissar's plan to raise money for his enormous White Elephant new Town Hall in a tin shed on Whitehills Industrial Estate, and his plan to put a new a Civic Suite above Lowther Pavilion, he prepared a list of more than 40 'assets' that should be considered as a source of funding if they could be sold.

As was typical of the fools running the Council at that time, most of these so-called assets were things that already had a purpose, like playing fields or housing or whatever. It was a blatant asset stripping exercise to maximise cash values.

One of those assets listed was Melton Grove, and it was provisionally scheduled into 'Category 1' "Assets that could or should be disposed of to achieve income"

However when the matter was considered at a  'Special Policy & Service Review Scrutiny Committee' on 23 August 2007, the recommendation they made to Cabinet had changed from it being an asset "that could or should be disposed of to achieve income."

The Committee's recommendation was "That if the Directors of Clifton Lytham Housing choose not to dispose of the Association to a registered social landlord that the Council no longer supports the administrative costs to the Association"

Readers will see here a very different scenario to that of maximising income. There is even an implication that the Directors might not want to sell Melton Grove.

Mr Woodward's 'Chronology' version of the minute has deleted the part of the resolution that says "to a registered Social Landlord" perhaps because it is an inconvenuient truth to mention at this point. (We have the full unabridged minutes if anyone wants them, just ask)

So the recommendation to Cabinet was either to sell it to a Registered Social Landlord (would achieve nothing like development value), or to recover the cost of the officer time that was spent in servicing the Housing Association via tenant rents.

Cabinet considered the recommendations and "RESOLVED that the recommendations of the Policy & Service Review Scrutiny committee be agreed with the exception that the recommendation for the land at Wrea Crescent...."

So the Cabinet's decision became "That if the Directors of Clifton Lytham Housing choose not to dispose of the Association to a registered social landlord that the Council no longer supports the administrative costs to the Association"

Sounds fine to us.

It's absolutely not an instruction to require the sale of Melton Grove.

It certainly has no suggestion of disposal to a developer (and It specifically limits the disposal in whole to a Registered Social Landlord, and even that was not required if the Tenants meet the cost of the Council's staff in looking after the small estate).

But somehow, things got changed by the officers.

In a report called "Shaping the Future" -  written on 27 September 2007 by Company Secretary Ian Curtis, but not present to the Board of Directors by him until a year later (24th November 2008) he set out four options.

The wording of that report is illuminating as to what was happening. (We can email a copy if anyone would like to see it)

The following are all quotations from Mr Curtis' Report. They are selective for brevity and may not be wholly in context because of this, but when you read them, compare them to the decision we set out above that was recommended by Committee and made by Cabinet.

The report begins with a description of the current situation before launching into the four options.....

A). "The properties are relatively small, and a relatively small proportion of the site is built upon... [The bungalows] appear to be well built and well maintained [and]...are relatively uncrowded on the site. The land is also blessed with a number of mature trees towards the main road side of the site, and this adds an air of 'otherness' in the estate, a small oasis of tranquillity behind the grey flint wall"

B). "Apart from the allocation of tenancies, the Melton Grove properties are managed under an agency agreement by New Fylde Housing Ltd. Clifton Housing also draws upon the services of a small number of Fylde Borough Council officers for financial, administrative and company secretarial support"

C). "Because of these close connections between the council and the company, the company is considered to be a company controlled by the council for the purposes of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and the regulations made under it."

D). "Options for the future
The cabinet's decision demonstrates that the council is no longer prepared to accept that Clifton Housing can continue in its present archaic and idiosyncratic way. "

Now tell us Dear Reader, where on earth in the Cabinet resolution can you find anything like that sentiment?

What the report set out to do, (and what it does), is to base its recommendations on elements of fact that support the conclusions it wants the reader to draw, whilst omitting the inconvenient ones, and thus it distorts  the whole truth.

In short, it is biased.

The options it proposed were:

Option 1: Continue as at present:
(
Although it then went on to say in this regard "It is glib and usually incorrect to say that doing nothing is not an option. However, in the light of the Cabinet's decision, doing nothing appears no longer to be an option." ) See what we mean about distortion of the truth. It is accurate that the Cabinet recommendation was for change, but not necessarily for sale.

Option 2: Cease operating:
"The company would sell the Melton Grove land, subject to the existing tenancies. The tenants would become tenants of the new landowner. Clifton Housing would have no reason to continue in existence following the sale of Melton Grove. The company would presumably then go through the procedures for a members' voluntary winding-up.

Under the company's articles of association, the assets of the company would be distributed among the shareholders, to be held on trust and paid to the council.

This option has the advantage of realising a capital receipt that the council could use. However, that receipt would not equate to the unencumbered development value of the land, as it would be sold subject to existing tenancies and the restrictive covenant."

(NB: The restrictive covenant said "Not to use the said premises or any part thereof for any other purpose than that of private dwellings for the working classes and for aged persons of limited means")

Option 3: Working with Fylde Borough Council:
(Summary of text from report) This would mean working more closely with Fylde Borough Council to deliver parts of the council's housing strategy and may involve further changes to its letting policies and procedures and would mean the ending of the current management arrangement with New Fylde Housing. It could also involve registration with the Housing Corporation.

Option 4: Independence:
"This option would involve cutting formal ties with Fylde Borough Council. The articles of association would need to be changed to remove the rights of the council to nominate and remove directors and members of the company. The services presently provided by the council would cease, or be charged at a commercial rate.

Total independence may not be viable. Many smaller housing associations have now formed associations with larger ones, who they rely on for administrative, technical and managerial services. In practical terms, independence from Fylde Borough Council may mean forming an association of this kind with another housing association. That may be a workable future, but some work would need to be done with possible partner organisations to establish a business case. That work would have to be done by consultants."

In analysing these four options Mr Curtis concluded:

"The cabinet's decision takes away any realistic possibility of adopting option 1 (Continue as at present). This is not a bad thing as it always appeared the least justifiable of the four options. Options 2 and 3 are clearly still available.

Option 2 delivers maximum financial return to the council, while option 4 would allow Clifton Housing to continue in existence and embed its role as a social housing provider in the community. But the downside of both of these options is that the council loses the direct control of and opportunity to influence the provision of (additional) rented social housing in the key area of Lytham.

Option 3 may still be a viable option. It envisages the council's housing section providing a full housing management service on a fully recharged basis. The required accountancy and administrative support for the corporate centre could also be bought from external providers. However, this could only be done if the council was fully committed to support it. The board would need to establish this as a matter of priority if it wants to pursue this option"

Mr Curtis recommended the Board to choose 'Option 2'  

Mr Woodward's "Chronology" says they approved option 2 "which was to sell Melton Grove subject to the protection of the existing tenancies."

But in fact the minutes of the meeting make no reference to protecting tenancies, nor do they limit consideration to Option 2.

They actually say "That a further report be presented to a future meeting of the Company exploring in depth options 2 and 3 of the report.

So in effect they wanted to look more closely at the options for "Cease operating and sell subject to existing tenancies and the restrictive covenant." and "Working with Fylde Council"  

But then it changed again.

(And that's the last you'll hear of observing the restrictive covenant. That was quickly erased after the Directors acquired the freehold of the land - again this was a policy decision being made without reference to the full Council)

Another year later, in September 2009, the Chief Executive himself produced a report to the Directors which sought permission to invite quotations for an "Options Appraisal Report"  from suitable surveyors and other consultants on social housing.

Quite why the Chief Executive of the Council has become involved at this point we're not sure. Up to then, the Company Secretary Mr Curtis had advised them. Perhaps Mr Woodward had a special reason for getting involved when the advisors were being selected.

The Schedule of Requirements was sent out by Fylde Council, in the Council's name, to be returned to an officer at the Council (Not in the name of the Directors or to be returned to the Company Secretary). This was apparently done without reference to the Cabinet or to the full Council.

The specification makes no reference to the resolution of Cabinet or of the Directors. It is entirely open and says simply that "the Association is reviewing its business direction and wishes to identify and consider its options which may include continuing to manage the estate in the most efficient manner, maximising potential development opportunities, or disposing of the asset"

Readers will note the brief is much wider than before. It no longer seeks to be bound by "the existing tenancies and the restrictive covenant"  It adds in disposal of the asset and raises the prospect of development opportunities which have not been sought or even approved in any of the resolutions of Cabinet or the Board. It goes further to say that "the realisation of a capital return is an equally regarded consideration" but there is no minuted justification for this statement.

Mr Woodward's Chronology next says in December 2009 The Board appointed Morris Dean (Chartered Surveyors of Rochdale) to undertake the future options appraisal.

We have not been able to find the minutes of this meeting, but in February 2010. Mr Barry Dean (apparently working as a consultant for Morris Dean, a company he had ceased to be a Director of 18 months earlier) did present his report of 8 options.

Mr Woodward's 'Chronology' at this point has deleted the original reference to covenant arrangements in his sentence. (Again we presume that without deletion this would have presented in inconvenient reminder for readers)  Formerly it read: "On the basis of the options appraisal the Board issued instructions to Morris Dean to invite bids from social landlords to enable negotiations regarding protection of the tenants in terms of their future security and rent levels, covenant arrangements and in terms of development claw-back potential to be undertaken prior to disposal."

There are other deletions in Mr Woodward's 'Chronology' which seem intended to, shall we say, accentuate the positive, (such as the deletion of the original words "offers had been received from two registered social landlords and Windmill Developments"  This might otherwise have drawn attention to the fact that Windmill Developments is not a Registered Social Landlord)

We're not going into all 8 options all here, but the report said it's purpose was "to guide the Board and its Officers in determining the future disposition of the development and potential for capital receipts"

So readers will note it set out with the intention of disposal and the generation of a capital receipt, neither of which were what had been originally asked for.

The options were wide ranging and they recognised the dichotomy of the diametrically opposed directions of keeping Melton Grove for Social Housing or maximising a return out of the land.

Without reference to the Council (and without being advised to consult the Council by Mr Woodward), the Board decided to choose Option 3 - "Asset Sale to an alternative Housing Association"

Although we can find no minute of it, Mr Dean then appears to have been appointed to conduct negotiations with potential Housing Associations who might be purchasers.

He reported on 13 September 2010. By now he has decided that in order to generate comparative prices, 15 of the 20 bungalows will be retained for social rent and five will be sold on the open market. Again we can find no minute authorising this split.

He notes the offer from "Community Gateway" would be around £500,000 if all the houses were retained as social housing, or £700,000 if five were sold, and around £800,000 if ten were sold. But he thought the £700,000 and five sold could be increased to £1,125,000 using a share in future sale proceeds.

The offer from "Windmill Group" would be £1,375,000 and that was based on: The bungalows transferring to a Registered Social landlord with a covenant that nine of the twenty would remain indefinitely for social occupation. Six would be transferred to a 'Charitable organisation' as they became vacant for subsequent occupation by adults with learning difficulties, and five would be redeveloped. Mr Dean said he was "aware of a requirement for secure accommodation for adults with mental disorders in the Fylde area" and although he had no reason to believe that this was the use being proposed by Windmill he would want further clarification on this.

The offer from "Progress Housing" was initially £850,000 but with a rent uplift they envisaged an offer of £920,000 subject to surveys. They said they would be happy to see five properties redeveloped and sold as they became vacant, and would be happy for CLHA to take the profit from those sales. After consulting local estate agents, Mr Dean felt this could achieve £1,420,000 and possibly more than £1,500,000

He suggested Windmill and Progress were quite close and further discussion should take place, but if the Board wanted to decide there and then he would suggest going with Progress.

Two months later, in November 2010, he was of the view that "Community Gateway's"  best offer would be £1,125,000.

But for "Windmill" he said that "on the 20th September Windmill offered an additional overage payment of £125,000 on the basis that it would obtain Planning Permission for 6 detached open market homes for sale within the site in part through demolition of the vacated bungalows as outlined in the original discussion agenda."

and

"In principle there would appear to be no reason why The Windmill Group should not obtain Planning Consent to erect 6 detached homes for open market sale for it would not be in their interest to submit an application that was likely to be refused"

"Windmill's offer, would generate an unconditional payment of £1,375,000 at the point of contractual completion with a further payment of £125,000 that I would recommend be due for payment within 28 days following grant of Planning Consent, a total of £1,500,000. If this Option were to be considered, I would seek a time limit during which the Application was to be submitted of probably not more than 6 months. In this case and subject to the bungalows being vacated in the manner anticipated, the additional payment could be expected within 1 year following contractual completion."

He said the "Progress" offer had not really changed. It would be a minimum of £1,420,000 including sale of the two vacant bungalows and income from the sale of three further ones as they became empty.

Mr Dean now recommended the increased offer from "Windmill" as being favourite.

Readers will note that assumes the grant of planning permission, without which, the "Progress" bid is actually higher.

Readers will also note the Windmill offer sails close to the wind of illegality if it implies that planning permission would be granted because of the potential income to the Council.

Windmill was selected.

And there Dear Reader - if you're still with us - is how you get from

"if the Directors of Clifton Lytham Housing choose not to dispose of the Association to a registered social landlord that the Council no longer supports the administrative costs to the Association""

to

An "arranged sale" (with more twists than an Agatha Christie novel) to a developer whose increased offer has not been tested against that of other property developers (as opposed to social landlords), whose offer is only higher if you include and assumed grant of planning permission, and whose plan included re-development of six properties for sale, the transfer of six more to a charity for occupation by adults with some (as yet still unspecified) form of learning difficulties, and only none nine of the original twenty to be retained for the purpose for which they were intended.

And we're supposed to trust to the honesty of this administration.

Yes, really!

Dated:   10 July 2011


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