Last night's Assets, Regeneration and Growth Committee were forced to agree a motion allowing officers to negotiate a settlement with Stonegrove and West Hendon regeneration developers Barratts to cover outstanding historic costs incurred by the Council, because the Council failed to keep accurate records of the costs incurred.
Under the terms of the PDA (Principal Development Agreement) the developers agreed the Council could recover officer costs related to the regeneration scheme at Stonegrove, Edgware, however the terms of this agreement appear not to have been well defined and the Conservative Council are now having to get out the begging bowl to get only some of the costs back.
In mid-2013 Barnet managed to claw back almost £1.3m in officer costs and they now want the remaining monies owed. Barnet Council are only asking Barratts for £500,000 as a final settlement which officers described as “reasonable under the circumstances”. Under the unclear terms of the agreement Barratts do not have to pay this money back but thankfully for the Tories they are “in principle” open to discussion on a “taper” payment.
Barnet Labour councillors estimate that the figure owed is far higher than the £500,000 sought, but the Council will not reveal what they think they are owed.
In February Barratts reported half yearly profit increases of 162%.
Earlier this year a roof on one of the new Stonegrove blocks blew off during a storm.
Cllr Pauline Coakley Webb said: “The catalogue of Conservative cock-ups continues - and this time we can't even quantify how much it will cost the council tax payer because they have no accurate records as to how much cost has been incurred and they've waited so long to sort it out - it's like a blank cheque. The council say this is "reasonable in the circumstances" but we don't even know what the circumstances are. How many affordable homes for local people could this money have built? The council made a big deal about the developer bearing this cost, and it turns out the developer is getting the last laugh. This is yet another financial legacy left to us by the dynamic duo of Mike Freer and Matthew Offord."