Thursday, 11 July 2013

Neighbours made to pay rubbish fines

Two Beeston neighbours have had to pay out nearly £1,500 for failing to clear rubbish from their garden and for leaving bins on the street.

The growing pile of waste in Shantelle Thompson’s Tempest Road garden was spotted by environmental action officers out on regular priority area patrols. Thompson was asked on several occasions to clear the rubbish. When she failed to do so, she was issued with a legal notice requiring her clear the rotting mess.

Ignoring the legal notice and subsequent £75 fixed penalty notice issued for a lack of action meant Thompson was prosecuted.

She was ordered to pay a £100 fine along with a victim surcharge £20 and costs of £646.34.

Across the road, Errol Wint was asked to ensure wheeled bins were put away after they had been emptied. The bins are shared with other flats at the same address.

Despite another resident at the same address being prosecuted earlier in the year for leaving the shared bins out, environmental action officers noted after several visits that the bins were permanently on the pavement, blocking access for anyone trying to get past.

Wint and his neighbours clearly hadn’t received the message that people who share bins will be held jointly responsible for making sure they are used properly. Wint didn’t heed the requests and warnings to store the bins properly so was issued with a £75 fixed penalty notice. He was prosecuted for non-payment and fined £75, ordered to pay costs of £566.54 and a £20 victim surcharge.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“We give people every opportunity to clear up their waste and deal with their bins appropriately.

“We can’t allow waste to accumulate in someone’s property to the extent that it will become a health hazard, nor can we allow bins to block pavements, causing people to walk in the road.

“For our part, we are committed to providing a range of effective and efficient waste services. “To make these services as effective as possible we need people to work with us. When they don’t, we can and will take action.”

Caption: Thompson allowed household waste to accumulate in her garden.

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


LCC pursues arena court costs with winding-up petition on MEL

Leeds City Council (LCC) has confirmed that it is still seeking to recover legal costs from Montpellier Estates Limited (MEL) chairman Jan Fletcher after serving a winding up petition on her company.

The statement comes as the council has today published an advertisement in the London Gazette announcing it has served a winding up petition on MEL.

This is in respect of MEL’s failure to pay £2 million interim costs awarded to LCC by Mr Justice Supperstone following the company’s failed court bid for damages from the council after they did not win the contract to develop the Leeds Arena.

The council has also confirmed that because the company is unable to pay, it will seek to recover costs from MEL chairman Jan Fletcher, who gave a personal undertaking to cover the costs should the company be unable to do so.

Ms Fletcher gave a written undertaking to this effect to the council in July 2012, more than three months before the High Court hearing began in London, guaranteeing payment in the event of MEL both losing the case and not being able to pay up.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said:
“Unfortunately, after our giving MEL every opportunity to pay the interim costs, including allowing them a further six weeks to find the money once the judge’s deadline to pay had expired, we have no choice but to take this action.

“Defending this unfounded case- which the judge himself said publicly should never have been brought- cost the council in excess of £4 million at a time when we have to make severe cuts to our budgets. We simply cannot afford not to actively pursue recovery for council taxpayers of this much-needed public money.

“We totally refute any suggestion that this action is in any way connected to inhibiting an appeal. It would be irresponsible of us not to try every legal avenue to reclaim this very large amount of public cash when MEL have completely failed to refund it to the people of Leeds. Not only do they have a legal duty to pay up they owe it to the public to do so."

"Leeds City Council consistently advised MEL that it would seek the full recovery of its costs should its claims against the council fail. MEL told the council that there was no reason to assume that the company could not meet a cost order against it."

Mr Justice Supperstone made an interim cost award of £2m in favour of Leeds City Council on April 25, to be paid in 28 days. At the time he indicated that he was in “no doubt" that the deceit claim against the council should never have been brought to court. Since that order was made the council has provided MEL with two extensions to this deadline, but no payment or credible proposal for payment has been made.

Notes to editors:
Legal proceedings background: on April 25 2013 Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting in the High Court in Leeds, awarded Leeds City Council interim costs of £2m against Montpellier Estates Ltd (MEL) following their failed attempt to sue the council over the awarding of development rights to the £60m Leeds Arena.
In awarding the costs- which are an interim payment pending a future decision on the total amount to be paid- the judge criticised MEL for pursuing the deceit element of their claim in the first place.
Mr Justice Supperstone had originally handed down a ruling on February 6 2013 dismissing entirely claims for more than £43.5 million in damages for alleged deceit and flawed procurement under European regulations brought by MEL against the council.
He also rejected allegations of fraud and dishonesty against eight named individuals connected to LCC and the arena project.
The judge said that the council was perfectly entitled to bring the competitive tendering exercise to a close when other bids were found not to be good value for money and then develop the arena itself. The original hearing took place in London’s High Court over nine weeks towards the end of 2012.
Leeds Arena- now known as first direct arena- will open on July 24 with a concert by US rock star Bruce Springsteen.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office, 0113- 224 3335

New city advice service to focus on debt and finances

A new advice service for the city focusing on debt advice could be launched in early 2014.

The economic downturn and the welfare reforms have led to an unprecedented high demand for support and advice. In response to this, Leeds City Council’s executive board will be considering a report around a new advice service for the city at a meeting of the board next week(Wednesday 17 July).

Subject to the success of ongoing discussions, a consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies would offer a more integrated and accessible service covering a range of issues including welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, consumer affairs, utilities and immigration/asylum, but focusing on the financial aspect to begin with.

The executive board will be recommended to agree a three year contract for the service, to the value of £1.36m per year, at a meeting on Wednesday 17 July 2013, with the capacity for two one year extensions and being delivered by a consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“As a city we need to meet the growing demand for free impartial and confidential advice especially focusing on financial advice at a time of unprecedented high demand for such support.
“We need to do all we can to help people out of poverty, and prevent others from falling into this bracket – we are already seeing the effects of welfare reform with people falling into rent arrears and council tax arrears. As a council we are willing to provide money for this vital service and ensure that it works in the best way possible.

“Through appointing the consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies , subject to the continuing negotiations, we can retain local employment and volunteering opportunities, attract additional public and charitable investment into the city and further develop the strong local advice network. The consortium has a good understanding of the city and its diverse range of neighbourhoods and communities.”

The new service would make better use of technology, council assets and would ensure a
more targeted neighbourhood and community approach to help communities most in need.

Notes to editors:

A detailed review of all current service provision was conducted between September 2012
and March 2013.

Alongside the review, a detailed consultation took place with current advice providers, such as
citizens advice bureaux and local third sector organisations who deliver advice alongside
other important community services. It also involved talking with current users of
advice services to better understand why they need advice and how they would prefer to
access it in the future.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450