Cllr Hayes and Court Costs

A little bit of Chronic housekeeping before Christmas.

It’s probably worth bashing out a blog post about Cllr Jo Hayes and the continued saga of her failed High Court attempt to try and overturn the CBC planning decision to build the Premier Inn hotel at Colnebank House.

This gets pretty messy – and complicated.

Plus we’ve been ‘warned’ off by some to tread incredibly carefully here.

And so we will.

*crunch, crunch, egg shells*

OH SHIT.

The update that we can provide is that CBC now won’t make public the amount of money that Cllr Hayes has paid back to the borough in which she serves as a Member.

We put in a Freedom of Information request last month, asking CBC:

“In a response to a previous FoI regarding the costs of the court case involving Cllr Jo Hayes and the Premier Inn Hotel, the CBC Performance Monitoring Officer stated that:

The figures will be released only after a final settlement has been reached.”

Now that a settlement has finally been reached, we thought that it would be in the public interest to see how much the LibDem Cllr for Castle ward was asked to pay back, after her actions led to CBC having to defend a case in the High Court.

The FoI that we referenced [submitted by Ben Locker, before he became a Conservative Cllr] suggests that the CBC Performance Monitoring Officer shared our view.

But wait! What’s this?

It now appears that CBC has had a change of heart.

*tread carefully, CRUSH CRUSH*

…and for whatever reason, the figure that Cllr Hayes has been asked to pay back to CBC is now not in the public interest.

For the record, the response to our FoI states:

“The legal challenges mentioned culminated in an order issued by the Senior Courts Cost Office of the High Courts of Justice whereby Cllr. Hayes repaid the Council’s costs. Ultimately therefore the Council incurred no costs.

The terms of the order are confidential and amount to exempt information under Section 32 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (court records or documents)”

Fancy that.

It’s a shame, because we really would like clarification as to whether what Cllr Hayes coughed up was more – or less – than the legal action that CBC footed the Bill for.

But without any official record, then we can only speculate.

And of course we wouldn’t want to do that.

Nope.

Not here.

The only information we have to go on is an October 2014 report prepared by the CBC Performance Monitoring Officer, in which he observed:

“Legal Services wrote to Jo Hayes on 7 and 13 May and 9 June requesting payment of the £7204.19.”

Higher!

Lower!

Um, we best shut up here.

No one really comes out of this whole planning mess very well. The Comrades of the Colchester Labour party attempted a cheap smear at Cllr Hayes at the time in the local newspaper.

For some unknown reason, the veracity of the attack by the local Labour group suddenly stopped.

Cllr Hayes meanwhile has been left out of pocket, and probably out of favour in her local LibDem group, at a time when every seat really does matter for the WEIRD LibLab love in.

As for CBC?

It’s all about the transparency, isn’t it?