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Borough council chief confirms High Court action against KCC is withdrawn

Friday 15th March 2019


The Maidstone Borough Council chief executive has officially confirmed her authority has pulled out of its High Court legal action against Kent County Council, we have learnt.

Alison Broom said in correspondence seen by Daily Downs Mail that "MBC has agreed to withdraw" from the judicial review (JR) claim against KCC.

Mrs Broom and the leadership of the Liberal Democrat-led authority took action over KCC's alleged misuse of developer contributions to pay for suveys into the viability of a Leeds-Langley relief road.

But amid mounting pressure from the Conservative and Labour groups at the town hall to abandon the action and under fierce criticism about the cost to the tax-payer, the judicial review action has been dropped.

In an email sent to selected members last evening, MBC chief executive Alison Broom said: "I can advise you that the negotiations were concluded this afternoon and that a settlement has been agreed and confirmed in open correspondence.

"On the basis of the agreement MBC has agreed to withdraw the JR claim. To all intents and purposes the matter is now resolved – and we plan to lodge the associated consent order in the administrative court as soon as practicable – and hopefully tomorrow (Friday).

"With respect to the conduct of proceedings – these have now been brought to a close. It is my intention to work with my counter-part at KCC to make a joint statement about the agreement reached. I will then ensure that all members are briefed.

"With respect to costs – we have agreed to each bear our own costs."

Pro-relief road campaigner and county councilor Gary Cooke described the action as a "monumental waste of public money" and implored MBC to get back round the table to get plans for a relief road back on track.

Borough councillor Jonathan Purle, whose request last week for an extraordinary meeting of the council preceded the withdrawal, said: "The trouble is that the tax payer will end up paying all of the costs of this pointless exercise."

Daily Downs Mail has repeatedly asked for the costs incurred in the High Court action since it was launched last June. We have received no response but have lodged a request under Freedom of Information legislation.

A spokesman for KCC said: “We are pleased that this action has now been bought to a positive conclusion and as before we will continue to work co-operatively and positively with members and officers of MBC.”

KCC leader Paul Carter told Daily Downs Mail: "I have always said that it should never have come this far. But it is good news."