An update for the community on the legal fund, from Jon Davies, Secretary LLRA
In the last few weeks we have spent some time reviewing the impact of Veolia’s appeal withdrawal, as well as finalising invoicing and banking for the legal fund. We are now in a position to share the detail along with some thoughts for the future, so the community have a transparent view of the spend and activity.
Summary of Position
- We have a surplus of £6,890.41 in the legal fund (LLRA) bank account from the £12,268.43 donated by our fabulous community, with no further liabilities outstanding.
- We have applied for costs of £5,258 against Veolia. There is no confirmed timescale for the Planning Inspectorate’s decision on this.
- £500 will be released from the legal fund to cover ongoing communication costs (such as leaflet drops/AGM).
- £6,390.41, plus any recovered costs, will be held as a legal defence fund until at least June 2019 and until the future threat from Veolia is judged to be remote. When the threat has reduced, a decision will be made on releasing some or all of the surplus for wider community purposes, as has always been the long-term intention.
- Further details will be provided at the LLRA AGM on 22 May 2018 , with the current fund trustees in attendance. Details on LLRA AGM.
- LLRA now plan to re-focus our efforts, from opposing the Veolia development, to developing a positive long-term vision for our community.
Thank you to everyone who helped achieve this result
Our community has achieved a fantastic campaign result. Let no one believe the threat went away by accident. Veolia’s withdrawal was the result of huge efforts throughout the community. A big thank you to everyone for believing that we could fight and win a battle against a huge multinational. And for backing that belief by donating money to the community legal fund, which gave us crucial access to the legal expertise we needed, and turning out to show support at public meetings. A huge thank you too, to all the community volunteers who spent literally hundreds of hours preparing submissions to support our case. Without this volunteer work we would not have been able to put up such a strong legal argument. Dozens of people in our community gave practical help in many different ways. People power at its best.
Victory was aided by the work of our elected councillors and MP, who all gave much help and guidance. Behind the scenes we got much needed practical help from officers of both county and city councils and from local Long Leys baker AW Curtis. Our thanks also to Steve Kemp and the team from Open Plan Consultants who provided vital ideas and knowledge on the planning process during the appeal. A special thanks must go to Richard Dale of Dale & Co Solicitors, who kindly provided free but immensely valuable advice on the best approach to fighting the appeal. Richard, along with Councillor Robert Parker, also supported the community by acting as legal fund trustees. Outside our immediate community we had huge help from Malcolm Plaskitt from Scunthorpe, on how to structure our complaint to the Traffic Commissioner, which had a key role in the case. Malcolm offered his assistance after a friend in Long Leys told him of our battle. We also appreciate the expert guidance on the potential odour impact of the development, from someone who prefers to remain anonymous. Our thanks go to her. Finally, thanks to the whole LLRA/Stop Veolia team. It’s been a great experience working with you all.
What is the plan for the legal fund now Veolia have withdrawn their planning appeal?
The threat from Veolia’s current application is over, but this does not stop Veolia from submitting further planning applications. Whilst unlikely, it is felt that an abundance of caution should be the community’s approach, until Veolia’s intentions are clear. After discussions with Stop Veolia, and an LLRA Management Committee meeting on 8 March, it was agreed that £6,390.41 of the legal fund, together with any future recovered costs, should be frozen until at least June 2019 in an interest bearing account managed by the LLRA. In June 2019 the threat to the community will be reviewed again and a decision made on whether some or all of the fund should be released for wider community purposes, as has always been the long-term intention for surplus money after the appeal process. Arguments have also been made for a permanent retention of a community legal defence fund, of a size to be agreed; this is maybe something that should be explored further at next year’s LLRA AGM in May 2019. £500 has been released from the fund to cover ongoing costs for communication with the community; until now these have kindly been paid for by individual residents, with support from a local business.
How did we end up with this much surplus money?
In the legal campaign, the biggest planned spend was having barrister representation at the four-day appeal hearing. We had already paid £7,000 on account to secure the services of a barrister, for legal advice leading up to the hearing and appearing at the hearing. Managing to avoid paying a hearing cancellation charge saved us a substantial sum which has now been refunded. You can read the full spend detail in the report to trustees in the link above.
Why don’t we spend all the money now?
Anyone involved in the fundraising campaign can tell you the big effort that went into collecting donations from our fantastic community. We cannot reasonably ask these volunteers to go through this again, in the event the threat returns. Part of the reason Veolia decided to withdraw when they did may well have been because they knew, with a £12,000 legal fund, the community was serious about fighting them with legal representation and strong arguments. Keeping the legal fund means we are prepared and ready if Veolia come back again. In the meantime we can put our time and energy into planning a positive vision for our community.
How will we develop a positive vision for our community?
We are at an early stage in exploring development of a Neighbourhood Plan for Long Leys, which would allow us to influence how our community develops in the future. Developing the plan means consultation with everyone in the community, to find out how residents and businesses would like to see the area develop. It will also help guide where the Section 106 money can best be spent. Once developed and approved, our Neighbourhood Plan would have the same standing in the planning process as the Central Lincolnshire local plan. This will be one of the topics covered at the Resident’s Association AGM on Tuesday 22 May at 7pm so please do come along to hear more. In the meantime, a document published by Leeds City Council explains how a Neighbourhood Plan could work in a city without a Parish Council structure.
If you have any questions on the fund then please email LLRA@long-leys.org or attend the LLRA AGM on 22 May 2018.