Council makes new offer to settle legal row

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Councillors have agreed a revised offer to try and end a long-running legal battle over a housing development – with council tax payers possibly footing the bill.

South Holland District Council is to offer £50,000 plus interest to former West Pinchbeck-based Nestwood Homes after accepting a Local Government Ombudsman’s findings that it had acted wrongly in respect of a planning application from 2007.

The deal was agreed at a meeting on Wednesday but it still has to be put to the Ombudsman who described the council’s previous total offer of £50,000 as unsatisfactory.

Deputy council leader Paul Przyszlak said the final amount was still to be worked out and a decision on whether it would be paid out of the council’s reserves, cuts in services or a council tax rise had yet to be made.

“We believe we can fund the offer, but a bigger sum would create problems,” Coun Przyszlak said.

“The uncertainty over council funding and the affect it would have on services would be kept to a minimum, but reserves are there for a reason and any amount used would have to be replaced.

“We’ll make a decision on how to fund the offer in due course and this will include considering a reduction in services or an increase in council tax.”

The Ombudsman investigated the council’s conduct relating to homes built in Fleet Hargate which residents complained about because of the height of some of the properties.

Nestwood Homes was told by the council to demolish four homes and three garages but after an appeal in 2008, the order was overturned and the Ombudsman, Anne Seex, called in.

She found maladminstration in the council and recommended it should pay almost £265,000 in compensation to Nestwood Homes.