Legal battle about future of historic Ulverston building
Last updated at 16:40, Friday, 31 August 2012
A CHARITABLE trust is locked in a legal battle that threatens the future of a landmark building and services for vulnerable children.
The community group behind Ford Park in Ulverston has been trying to sell the Grade II listed Ford Park House for months but has been unable to do so because the building is still occupied by Cumbria County Council.
The council rents the ground floor for £15,000 a year to provide day services for disabled children in Ulverston.
Town councillor Colin Pickthall, chairman of the Ford Park trustees, said: “We have to sell it because we simply cannot afford it. It is a costly building to run and we have sufficient office space in the Coach House.”
However, the terms of the lease – which has meant the rent the council pays has not increased in six years – would force the Ford Park Community Group to pay the council a severance fee.
And the council has now mounted a legal challenge in response to a notice served by the group that would increase the rent to £26,000 a year in order to cover the severance fee.
Jackie Williams, Ford Park centre and development manager, said: “Our costs have gone up dramatically but we are still getting the same amount of rent.
“The rent they pay is not even covering expenditure – we have been quite generous.”
She added that the council has stalled the issue by mounting their legal challenge just 10 days before the end of the six-month window they were given to do so.
The council, however, says it is not aware of the plans to sell Ford Park House and claims it has tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a new deal.
A council spokeswoman said: “The county council have tried to negotiate the lease renewal with Ford Park for several months, however, it has been unable to raise a response.
“It is unfortunate that Ford Park Community Group is unwilling to negotiate as the county council wishes to continue to provide this vital day care service for vulnerable children.”
The council said if no deal is agreed by October 15 the matter will be resolved in court.
First published at 16:16, Friday, 31 August 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
Alan, you don't know me and you don't know my attitudes towards anyone. If I had the money to buy Ford Park House, I'd buy it and let the day-care people stay there for free. I used the quote marks around 'vulnerable children' to signify that it was a quote. The Cumbria County Council spokesman called them 'vulnerable children', which just goes to show how uninformed that spokesman was about the day care facility. I gather that they are already back-pedalling on that quote, and good luck to them! I would have absolutely no objection to Cumbria County Council purchasing Ford Park House with my Council Tax money, and in fact, I would consider it money well spent, and it would be of great benefit to both the day care facility and Ford Park trustees. What I DO object to is Cumbria County Council using my Council Tax to pay judges and lawyers. That would represent money lost to me, never to be recovered. Another way of looking at it - does Cumbria County Council base the value of the people in the day care facility at Â£15,000, or would they say that those people were worth more than that? I'm sure that there are elements within the County Council who would love to see Ford Park go down the pan, and houses built on the site. The trustees operate Ford Park on a shoe-string and don't have the money for expensive legal battles. Basically, if they get run into the ground over such a spurious legal battle, then the site will end up as housing, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Council won't give two hoots about whether there's any provision for a day care facility.
The posts by NE ONE and Andrea Ray are symptomatic of the attitudes which prevailed in Victorian times towards those with learning difficulties and their disgraceful comments should not go unchallenged.NE ONE writes that he/she does not want his/her Council Tax to be used to fight a legal challenge, then goes on to say that Cumbria C.C. should buy Ford House, presumably not with his/her tax money. Failing that, the Council should just move out, he/she says, that being a contemptible dismissal of the welfare and feelings of those in care. Further, the use of the phrase "political football" is NE ONE's terminology, not the Trustees' nor the Council's and designating vulnerable children with quotation marks reveals, perhaps, his/her opinion of those less fortunate.The comment by Andrea Ray is even more revealing of bias against those with learning difficulties when she writes that "her own children don't want to use the new playground due to being frightend by the shouting which comes from the house." Does she not realise, if it be true, that it would be an ideal time to teach her children that there are many in this world who are far less fortunate than they are? It might result in her offspring showing more tolerance toward others when they reach adulthood, an attitude she obviously lacks.It would be interesting to know whether she and NE ONE have contributed towards the playground or Ford Park in general.
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