Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Radford Unity Complex - Reprise

Grief, this one just gets worse and worse. I thought the Radford Unity Complex issue was going to end reasonably happily but it really is going glands up.

The 'Post' is reporting on the latest developments which make pretty much everyone at NCC involved in this look like a bunch of twats, I think it's fair to say.

Apparently it has emerged that the previously secret buyer is a bunch called 'Nottingham Studios' who are so together that they don't even appear to have a website. The 'Post' says that they were offered the place last Autumn for the sum of around £150k. This is apparently around half its market value.

It also emerges that the council's Legal Services did not realise that the groups using RUC would be entitled to 6 months notice to quit, thus adding landlord and tenant law to the list of legal knowledge sets that they don't appear to possess, along with employment. So NCC is trying to get Nottingham Studios to let the groups stay on for a bit longer while, get this, NCC pays rent for them.

The latest fall-out seems to be over the amount of rent that will be paid, the council skillfully exploiting its 'over a barrel' negotiating position. As such Nottingham Studios' agent is singing like a canary saying -

"My understanding is that the Leader is very keen to see this sale go through."

as well as revealing the earlier-than-previously-admitted offer date. This is consistent with the fact that Collins made the portfolio decision.

On the bright side for NCC the Ombudsman is now apparently involved which usually guarantees a full exoneration.

So, to summarise -

  • NCC secretly offers RUC to little known Arts group, several months before the poroperty was declared 'surplus to requirements'
  • It is offered at around half its market value
  • The tenants were served notice to quit in December 09, nearly three months before the decision was officially made to dispose of the building
  • Legal Services failed to ensure that the proper notice was given (or maybe, hoped no-one would realise given the apparent rush to get shut of the place)
  • NCC failed to make any meaningful attempt to find the tenants alternative accommodation until after everything had blown up in its face
  • NCC will now have to pay rent to house the groups which will cut into the proceeds of the sale by about a third
Now, let's be clear, Jon Collins' grubby little paw prints are all over this one. The Post alleges that he even lied to a council committee (presumably the call-in sub-committee, the 'Post' doesn't say) about the low price the building was being sold at. Can't wait to see the minutes for that. And of course his name is at the bottom of the actual decision, which he seems to have made as little more than an afterthought.

This is quite serious stuff, certainly Standards Committee material (which of course is entirely unterrifying) but maybe even something he could be surcharged for.

Anyone might suspect that there could be some sort of undeclared relationships going on between JoCo and the people behind Nottingham Studios. But of course that couldn't be the case because the main players are named here and someone would be bound to go out and check. I'm sure there's nothing to see here.

Collins is of course refusing to comment and I'm not surprised. Frankly he's becoming a liability and if it weren't for the complete absence of gonads in the Labour Group I'd be predicting his imminent demise.

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