Thursday, 17 October 2013

Interim costs awarded against former chairman of failed arena developer

A High Court judge today granted permission to Leeds City Council to pursue former Montpellier Estates Ltd (MEL) chairman Jan Fletcher for its legal costs in defending the company’s failed Leeds Arena court case.

Mr Justice Supperstone also issued an order that Ms Fletcher pay interim costs of £2 million before November 14, pending a final decision on the total amount due. This was after he agreed an application from the council at the High Court in Leeds to join her into its claim for costs against MEL.

The council’s application was based on an earlier personal undertaking from Ms Fletcher to cover the costs should the company be unable to do so. She gave the written undertaking to the council in July 2012, guaranteeing payment in the event of MEL both losing the case and not being able to pay up.

This was more than three months before her company’s claim for damages over not winning the contract to develop the Leeds Arena was heard at the High Court in London. When the company did ultimately lose their case, MEL then failed to pay £2 million interim costs awarded to LCC by Mr Justice Supperstone.

The council then served a winding up petition on the company in July and announced it was still seeking to recover legal costs from their former chairman Ms Fletcher.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said:
“We’re pleased that Mr Justice Supperstone has granted this order. As we have stressed previously we gave MEL and Ms Fletcher every opportunity to meet the interim costs, including agreeing to extend the legal deadline for payment.

“This has left us with no choice but to take this action and we would be failing in our duty to the council tax payers of Leeds if we did not actively pursue these very large costs.”

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.
The costs were an interim payment pending a future decision on the total amount to be paid.
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.

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

New housing regeneration project offers jobs to local people

Job fairs will be held in the three areas of the new housing regeneration project in Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck next week.

As part of the commitment to ensure local people get local jobs, sc4l in partnership with Leeds City Council, Construction Housing Yorkshire, Re’new and Job Centre Plus are holding three drop in employment events across the project areas.

The job fairs will be held across various dates next week in the following locations;

Monday 21 October 2013 2pm to 7pm
St. Matthews Community Centre, St. Matthews Street, Holbeck, LS11 9NR

Thursday 24 October 2013 2pm to 7pm
Tiger 11, Beeston Road, Beeston, LS11 8ND

Tuesday 29 October 2013 2pm to 7pm
Carlton Croft meeting Room, Carlton Gardens, Little London, LS7 1HF

The first three and a half years of the project focuses on refurbishment to existing council homes and the building of new homes which will bring about opportunities for apprenticeships, work experience and work placements, all beginning in January 2014.

Alongside the employment fairs, an event around the new council homes to be built will take place on Thursday 24 October at Tiger 11, Beeston Road from 2pm until 7pm with the plans and computer generated images of the new homes to be built across eight sites all available for people to view.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“As part of the housing regeneration project, it is vitally important that we use the opportunity to help local people get into work.

“There are plenty of opportunities open for people of all ages and skill levels, and I would advise local people to attend these fairs to gain a better understanding of what employment there is on offer.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for leisure and skills said:

“Local jobs for local people is so important for a city, and as a council we are working hard with our partners to make sure opportunities are made available, especially with large scale projects such as this one.

“I would encourage any local people interested in opportunities to regenerate their local area to attend one of the job fairs to see what is on offer.”

Jon Hinchliff, sc4L General Manager said:

“We are looking forward to the up-coming job fairs as they will provide a further opportunity in the delivery of the wider regeneration aims of Leeds City Council, sc4L and our delivery partners Keepmoat.”

To register interest for vacancies on the day or for further information email or call Tel: 0113 881 4810


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

Landlord prosecuted for serious safety failings

A Leeds landlord faces a hefty bill for allowing a tenant to live with a catalogue of defects and faulty installations needing repair in a privately rented property.

David John Coates failed to appear before magistrates on Friday 4 October but was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,200.

The case came to light when Coates’ Gledhow Mount tenant complained to the council’s housing regulation team that he refused to make repairs.

Coates ignored the authority’s requests to investigate the issues so the council stepped in to conduct its own inspection.

Officers were disturbed to find evidence of serious neglect including a gas fire which had been condemned and a rotten, draughty and insecure front door which was falling out of the surrounding brickwork, with the surrounding gaps stuffed with plastic bags to prevent drafts, that were making the living room very cold and expensive to heat.

Dampness in the living room and bedrooms were made worse as blocked gutters allowed water to run down the walls and enter the house. Of even more concern to officers were the inadequate fire precautions which would effectively trap anyone on the upper floors if there was a fire.

Officers also found old electrical installations that had no evidence of servicing or essential maintenance making them potentially dangerous and no handrails on the steep, hard wood stairs to prevent falls.

Coates was served with improvement notices for the safety breaches but failed to acknowledge his responsibility for the condition of the property.

The council had to step in again when Coates attempted to evict the tenant but followed the incorrect legal procedure.

Having entirely failed to make the required improvements, Coates was prosecuted.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:

“It’s simply not acceptable for landlords to leave tenants in properties that are cold, damp, insecure and downright unsafe.

“Tenants should not have to put up with such poor living conditions but we can and will intervene when landlords neglect their responsibilities.

“We’ll continue to take action against landlords who consistently fail to improve standards and ignore tenant safety.”


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

‘Art and Life’ exhibition to open at Leeds Art Gallery

Caption: Ben Nicholson’s Cornish Port will form part of the ‘Art and Life’ exhibition. (Lender: Kettles Yard, University of Cambridge: Copyright: Angela Verren Taunt 2013. All rights reserved DACS.)

The work of two of the UK’s most important 20th century painters, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, will be showcased at Leeds Art Gallery from this Friday.

As part of the ‘Art and Life’ exhibition, the duos work both individually and in collaboration with friends and fellow artists Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, and the potter William Staite Murray will be on display.

Visitors will be given unique access and insight into the archive, history and work of the artists, which will include key pieces from public and private collections in the UK as well as loans from Europe.

Curated in collaboration with art historian and curator Jovan Nicholson, Winifred and Ben’s grandson, the exhibition will focus on the years of Ben and Winifred’s marriage from 1920 – 1931 and look at how their work shaped and informed the story of 20th century modern art in this country.

During its run at Leeds Art Gallery, a range of events and talks will also accompany the display. This will include the opportunity to hear from curator Jovan Nicholson who will speak at Leeds Art Gallery on 27 November from 6pm-7pm.

Talks on a number of different aspects of the display will also be held regularly every Thursday, and for families there will also be a programme of activities to take part in and enjoy.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills said:

"It really is fantastic news that the work of Ben and Winifred Nicholson will be displayed at Leeds Art Gallery as part of the ‘Art and Life’ exhibition.

"A range of interesting talks and events will also accompany this exhibition, in what promises to be a personal and intimate look at both their work and legacy."

Notes for editors:

The 'Art and Life’ exhibition opens on Friday 18 October 2013 until 12 January 2014. The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England Touring and Leeds Art Fund.

For more information on the exhibition, and details of the accompanying events and talks, please see:

The Art and Life’ exhibition after its time in Leeds, be touring Kettle’s Yard and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Leeds Art Gallery
The Headrow
West Yorkshire
0113 247 8256

Free admission
Opening Times
Monday & Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 12pm – 5pm
Thursday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm
Closed on Bank Holidays

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578