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Taxpayers Face Huge Bill Over Housing Deal

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3:35pm 14th November 2012

Cornish taxpayers could foot a massive bill after officials lost a legal battle over a deal to house the homeless.


A ruling that the old Restormel and Penwith councils violated their public duties - has been overturned.


Now Cornwall Council may have to honour the contract.


It says it could go to the Supreme Court.


A statement said:


“The Council is disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal which reverses the High Court decision made last year.


“The Council considered it necessary to challenge the validity of the 30 lengthy leases concerned.  Most of the leases were for 25 years.   It considered that the rents under the leases were not beneficial to the taxpayer.  The majority of properties were not suitable for the residents who lived in them, nor were they all in appropriate locations in the local communities.   Therefore the Council was pleased when the High Court ruled that the leases could be terminated by the Council at any time. 


“Following that judgment, the Council talked to all the occupants of the properties which were not already empty.  The majority of those residents were very keen to move to alternative, more appropriate accommodation. 


“Over 70 people have had positive moves to other accommodation and welcomed the Council’s assistance.  26 of the properties had been returned to Charles Terrance Estates.   The Council anticipated that the earlier decision would have saved at least £4.5 million in public funds. 


“This saving would have benefited the taxpayer in Cornwall whilst allowing the Council to secure better and more appropriate housing.   Unfortunately, the result of this judgment is that the leases are valid and the Council is still bound by their terms and the rents under them.


“The Council is considering whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.


“In the absence of any appeal, the Council will carefully consider how the properties should be used having regard to all relevant matters including housing need, the impact of any use on local communities and the ongoing financial burden.”

3:35pm 14th November 2012

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