Residents of Middlemore who moved house after being told their properties were being sold by Daventry District Council look unlikely to be compensated after the authority’s u-turn.
Residents of 32 TDECL homes in Pepperbox Hill, Hidcote Way and Stoneacre Close were informed that the council had agreed in early 2018 to sell off the homes for more than £6million.
But councillors eventually reversed the decision, but not before some families had decided to sell up and move out. Those residents have been seeking compensation ever since.
Although the council is very likely to agree to issuing a ‘without prejudice’ apology in writing to all tenants for any misunderstanding that has taken place, the issue of whether to compensate them is less clear cut.
Councillor Ken Ritchie is arguing that the council should pay out £2,000 to each of the 12 tenants who moved on from the homes, at a total cost of £24,000.
But a recommendation from Councillor Adam Brown, which was officially backed by the overview and scrutiny committee, will argue that there is insufficient evidence on which to offer compensation.
The argument stems down to whether tenancy agreements made clear that the homes were ‘homes for life’. Residents claim they brought the homes under that assumption, but the council is arguing that this was not stipulated in any of the tenancy agreements.
Speaking at the overview and scrutiny meeting on Tuesday (February 5), Councillor Brown said: “Whilst Daventry District Council didn’t conduct itself improperly in its legal obligations, in a moral sense things could have been done better. But in my understanding, there has not been any legal wrongdoing.
“I think it’s right to offer a without prejudice apology, but I don’t think there’s enough evidence to go further and award compensation when it would be taxpayers’ money.”
Fellow panel member Councillor Ian Robertson agreed, saying: “I’m fairly sure that DDC hasn’t done anything that contravenes the tenancy agreement. Anything discussed verbally takes a back seat when it comes to stuff in writing. I don’t think we can be giving compensation because we have not done anything wrong in the law.”
But submitting a ‘minority report’ which will be sent to the strategy group alongside Councillor Brown’s official report, Councillor Ritchie said: “I am grateful to Councillor Brown for the efforts he has made to speak with tenants, and I know that his willingness to spend time with them was much appreciated by those who met him.
“But my argument is not based on the law but is based on common decency. I know we have to use taxpayers money in a way that is prudent, but would taxpayers not expect their council to behave rationally towards people who have had a rough deal from that council?”
The recommendations are set to go to next month’s strategy meeting, where either Councillor Brown’s recommendations endorsed by overview or scrutiny, or Councillor Ritchie’s minority report recommendations will be agreed.
The agreed recommendation will then be sent to full council, where a final decision will be made.