Thirteen questions answered about the Lyndale School closure call ins

Thirteen questions answered about the Lyndale School closure call ins

Thirteen questions answered about the Lyndale School closure call ins

                            

Labour's Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) explains at a Wirral Council Cabinet meeting why he thinks the Cabinet should agree to consultation on closure of Lyndale School
Labour’s Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) explaining at a Wirral Council Cabinet meeting in January why he thinks the Cabinet should agree to consultation on closure of Lyndale School

Q. So what are the decisions that are being called-in?

There are two decisions that have been called in. The first is Cabinet’s decision of the 16th January to consult on closure of Lyndale School. The second is is a decision made at the same Cabinet meeting to change how much schools are paid for people with high needs.

Q. So if the decision called in was taken in mid-January why hasn’t the call in been decided yet?

Well the reasons are a little complicated. When the new constitution was approved last year, instead of all call ins going to the whichever scrutiny committee was relevant to the call in, the system was changed so that all call ins go to the Coordinating Committee. However there was a legal requirement on Wirral Council when considering educational matters to have extra voting representatives on the committee making the decision (between two and five parent governor representatives and one representing each of the diocesan bodies). The Coordinating Committee didn’t have such representation and due to the way the constitution is written, only Council can co opt people onto committees, so the meeting got adjourned to the 27th February so that the Council meeting on the 25th February could co-opt the relevant people.

Q. What exactly is a call in?

If six (or more) councillors disagree with a decision, they can request another committee look at it to see if it needs to be changed. Once a decision is called in, nothing further is done about it until the call in committee have reached a decision. That committee can then either uphold the original decision or make a recommendation back to the original decision making body that a different decision is reached.

Q. So what are the reasons why consulting on closing Lyndale School was called in?

Well the lead signatory to the call in (Cllr Tom Harney) has listed the following reasons:

“The Cabinet were not given the full information to make a decision

  • The category of Complex Learning Difficulties (CLD) includes children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) and children on the Autistic Spectrum. Their needs are different. This is not made clear.
  • The School has been in discussion with the LA about its future for 8 years. The uncertainty has caused some parents to send their children elsewhere.
  • The educational needs of the children are not analysed.
  • In paragraph 2.8, the LA admits they have failed to consider the funding of the school over past years. The funding arrangements are, in reality, in the hands of the LA and, in fact, were agreed at the same time as this proposal.
  • The argument about overheads ignores the present discussions between the LA and Governors about reducing overheads.
  • Table 2 does not discuss the different nature of the intakes of the 3 schools. This is misleading.
  • The work done by Eric Craven on behalf of the LA looking at the needs of the PMLD pupils at the Lyndale and other schools has never been referred to.
  • The resolution of the Council of February 14 2010 and the work done by the LA following this have not been referred to, not even mentioned. This should have formed the context for the present decision.

So what does that all mean in plain English?

  • There are kids who are autistic at the schools that the children from Lyndale School would be moved to if it was closed. The kind of support each group of kids need is different.
  • As parents know Wirral Council have been threatening to close Lyndale School for a number of years, they have chosen to send their children elsewhere as they wouldn’t want their education disrupted if the school closed.
  • I think Cllr Harney is referring to the report being mainly about money. When closure proposals are considered, whoever is making the decision (in this case the Cabinet) has to (its a legal requirement) take notice of guidance issued by the government on making such decisions. Part of this guidance is something referred to as the “SEN Improvement Test”. Put in a nutshell the SEN Improvement Test means if a special school is closed then those children who are affected by its closure and transferred to other schools have to receive an education at those new schools that is equivalent to or better than the education they got at their previous school. The parents of children at Lyndale School disagree that this would be the case.
  • Each year Wirral Council receives a ring fenced grant for education from the government. For 2014/15 Wirral Council will receive just over £240 million. It’s down to the politicians to agree a policy as how this money is divided up each year. Cllr Harney is also referring to the other policy decision that was called in which determines how much money special schools receive for people who have high needs.
  • Overheads refers to the fixed costs of running the school.
  • Table 2 refers to the average cost per a pupil at five schools (Elleray Park, Foxfield, Lyndale, Meadowside and Stanley). Each special school has a different sets of pupils with different needs, therefore different staffing requirements (and overheads). Comparisons on a raw cost of cost per pupil therefore don’t take into account that each child is different, the cost of supporting each child will be different and also that at Lyndale School there are a number of children with medical needs that leads to increased costs.
  • I’m sure Cllr Harney will explain what this refers to on the 27th February.
  • On the 14th February 2011, Council received a petition of 1,874 signatures asking the Council to “develop, as a matter of urgency, a consistent and coherent policy for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.” Council agreed the following resolution “That the Council initiates, as a matter of urgency, a thorough review of the current provision for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) on Wirral. The review will produce a comprehensive policy regarding the best ways to educate, support and care for these children and young people including transition from and provision during life beyond school. Parents will be fully involved in the planning and writing of this policy. This review will be presented to Cabinet by the end of 2011.”

    This review came back to Cabinet in January 2012. It had eleven recommendations, all eleven were agreed by the Cabinet.

Q. So what are the reasons why the decision on how money is allocated to special schools called in?

The reasons given were

  • The banding proposals (para 2.7) are not based on a clear costing of the needs of the children.
  • In particular, the needs of the children with profound and multiple learning difficulties should be quantified.
  • There is a clear need for one to one in terms of adult presence for many of the children. There is also a need for teaching and other staff. These are in addition to the running costs of the school.
  • In the case of the Lyndale, the funding proposals will result in the closure of the school. This has not been made clear in the paper.

So (again) what does that all mean in plain English?

  • The report and its appendices on banding proposals can be read on Wirral Council’s website. Each child would be placed into one of five bands. Each special school would get £10,000 + an amount depending on which band the child was in. These extra amounts range from band one (approximately an extra £1,000) to band five (an extra £16,000+). The band for the children with the highest needs assumes a staff ratio of 1:6 plus two teaching assistants, plus medical support. Lyndale School has children that would be placed in the new bands three to five (£17,000 to £26,000+ per pupil).
  • Some of the children at Lyndale School require a staffing ratio of one to one. Even if these children were in band five (the highest band), the money that Lyndale school received under the new policy wouldn’t Lyndale School’s costs. Although there is flexibility in band five, Lyndale School’s average cost per pupil in 2012-13 was £33,105.
  • If the banding proposals were adopted it would lead to a shortfall in Lyndale School’s budget of £72,000, getting worse in future years which would lead to the school closing.

So what about the minimum funding guarantee that means that Wirral Council can’t reduce the funding to schools by more than 1.5% compared to last year?

Wirral Council have applied to the Education Funding Agency for an exemption from the minimum funding guarantee which would guarantee schools receive at least 98.5% of what they received last year. The outcome of Wirral Council’s application is at the time of writing unknown.

What about the special schools contingency of £908,900?

Some of the contingency could be used to fund Lyndale School’s deficit in 2014-15. However, Lyndale School’s deficit is predicted to be larger in 2015-16 than in 2014-15. If the banding policy is agreed, it’ll lead to the closure of Lyndale School at some point in the future.

What about the SEN (Special Educational Needs) underspend in 2013-14 of £500,000?

Some of the SEN (Special Educational Needs) underspend could be used to fund Lyndale School’s deficit in 2014-15. However, an underspend in the SEN budget can’t be guaranteed for next year and a more long-term solution is needed.

What about the petition against closure of Lyndale School?

The petition (at the time of writing) is of 6,407 signatures against closure of Lyndale School.

Who will decide the call ins?

There are fifteen councillors on the Coordinating Committee who are Cllr Steve Foulkes (Chair (Labour)), Cllr John Salter (Labour), Cllr Jean Stapleton (Labour), Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour), Cllr Denise Realey (Labour), Cllr Pat Glasman (Labour), Cllr Paul Doughty (Labour), Cllr Bernie Mooney (Labour), Cllr Denise Roberts (Labour), Cllr Alan Brighouse (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Leah Fraser (Conservative), Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative), Cllr David Elderton (Conservative), Cllr Wendy Clements (Conservative) and Cllr Andrew Hodson (Conservative). Their contact details can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

In addition to these fifteen, there are a further three with voting rights who are Mrs H Shoebridge (parent governor representative), Mrs Nicola Smith (parent governor representative) and Damien Cunningham (representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury). At the time of writing the Diocese of Chester (Church of England) haven’t made a nomination to the committee.

If the Labour councillors (9) voted to uphold the Labour Cabinet’s decisions and the other councillors (6), parent governor representatives (2) and Damien Cunningham voted against it would be a tied 9:9 vote. If that was the case the Chair Cllr Steve Foulkes would have a casting vote.

Are there any more points?

Closing down a school they may have been at for years and moving them elsewhere to a different place, with different staff and different pupils would be very difficult and traumatic for them (and their parents) to cope with. If the school closed and the children would lose staff that had spent many years learning what their needs were. Some of the parents have said if the school is closed they will home school their children instead.

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Will contingency in Labour’s 2014/15 Schools Budget be enough to fund outcome of Lyndale School call in?

Will contingency in Labour’s 2014/15 Schools Budget be enough to fund outcome of Lyndale School call in?

Will contingency in Labour’s 2014/15 Schools Budget be enough to fund outcome of Lyndale School call in?

                         

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The item on the Schools Budget starts at 21:54. I include a transcript below of what was said during this item. The Schools Budget (2014/15) is a recommendation from Cabinet to the Budget Council on the 25th February. This is two days before the Coordinating Committee meets to decide on the call ins on consulting on closing Lyndale School and the top up payments for schools.

Surjit Tour towards the end states that the proposed budget includes a contingency “to meet any potential financial implications that may arise as a result of the forthcoming call in hearing”, however as the Coordinating Committee hasn’t met and made decisions on the call ins yet how can the financial implications be quantified?

7. Schools Budget
Cabinet (13th February 2014)

The report for this item can be read by following this link.

Cllr Phil Davies: The key item there is the Schools Budget for 2014/15 and Tony you’re going to introduce this? Thank you.

Cllr Tony Smith: Thank you Chair. Thank you. This is the Schools Budget for 2014/15. The Schools Budget report which you have summarises the main factors that have been taken into account in setting the Schools Budget of £240 million for 2014/15.

The overall funding for pupils aged three to sixteen is maintained in cash terms. In addition the budget contains a small amount of growth for schools.

There’s funding for the further expansion of two year old provision from September 2014 and for the full year effect of high needs costs for 4-16 students. Some details for academies for high needs have still to be finalised and the Schools Budget will be updated with this information when this information is available.

The Schools Budget report was considered by the Schools Forum on the 21st January. The Forum agreed the recommendations listed in paragraph 2.1 of this report and that said that the dedicated schools grant funding the Schools Budget for maintained schools and academies is approved at the sum of £240,058,000.

The headroom of £1,215,100 which is detailed in paragraph 4.6 is allocated within the formula to all schools and early year providers. The high needs contingency totalling £908,900 is agreed.

A reduction in planned programmed maintenance, PPM, of £200,000 is agreed. Use of the dedicated schools grant reserve totalling £732,000 in setting the Schools Budget is agreed and the remaining balance for automatic meter readers reclassified as a reserve for installation of defibrillators.

An additional recommendation is also made in respect of the funding for school’s private finance initiative. The Council currently adds £2.6 million to the ring-fenced Schools Budget in respect of the PFI funding gap.

£2.3 million of this Council funding is an agreed saving in 15/16 and the remainder is protected at this time. This proposal is to reduce the Council’s funding for PFI by £600,000 in 14/15 … 15/16.

The 14/15 Schools Budget has already been submitted to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and is finalised. However there is a £1 million approx schools budget carry forward from 13/14 to 14/15 which can be used to compensate for the £600,000 funding gap.

The schools therefore will receive the same budget for 14/15 as planned. I’ve got a resolution Chair which I’m putting forward. “Council regrets that due to its financial challenges it is unable to fund in full the PFI affordability gap for 14/15 and will reduce the Council contribution to the Schools Budget by £600,000 to £2 million. Officers are instructed to take appropriate actions in respect of the 2014/15 Schools Budget.” That’s the resolution.

Cllr Phil Davies: Thanks Tony, I’m just going to ask Surjit to just say a few words about one particular element of this Schools Budget, Surjit.

Surjit Tour (Wirral Council’s Head of Legal/Member Services): Thank you Chair. Queries have been raised with regards to whether there is an impact on the outstanding call in, in relation to the Schools Budget which may have a direct impact.

One of them in particular is the proposals for changes to the school’s top up payments for schools with high needs. Members will be aware that the matter is to be considered by the Policy and Performance Coordinating Committee on the 27th February. The position with regards to the proposed Schools Budget is that it includes a contingency provision and that provision is considered sufficient to meet any potential financial implications that may arise as a result of the forthcoming call in hearing and therefore you can agree the, the proposed budget is both sufficient and sufficiently flexible to address any potential implications that may arise and that therefore means that the budget can be proposed to Council forthwith.

Cllr Phil Davies: OK, so Tony Smith’s moved the resolution that we all heard. Can I ask can we agree that recommendation?

Councillors: Agreed.

Cllr Phil Davies: OK thank you very much, thank you Tony. Right OK, thanks very much for that Tony.

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Tower Bridge repairs, the future of Williamson Art Gallery and school crossing patrols u-turn

Tower Bridge repairs, the future of Williamson Art Gallery and school crossing patrols u-turn

Tower Bridge repairs, the future of Williamson Art Gallery and school crossing patrols u-turn

                            

It’s time to answer some questions from readers. First there’s a topical question.

1. How long is the Tower Bridge road closed for in Birkenhead?

Ah yes, a recurring question that pops up from the Wirral motorist wanting to get from Wallasey to Birkenhead (or vice versa). The bridge closed on Saturday 15th February 2014 and work is predicted to take a week for urgent repairs to the A bridge. Wirral Council say the work is necessary due to a loose steel plate.

Last week I received a phone call from a woman who wanted to know what is happening to the Williamson Art Gallery following last week’s Cabinet meeting on the 12th February to discuss the budget and that she trusted this blog to let her know what was going on.

2. What’s happening to the Williamson Art Gallery?

Well this was also mentioned at the recent Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting too. I’ve looked through the nine page handout given out during the meeting that details Labour’s proposals to the Council meeting on Tuesday 25th February to decide the budget for 2014/15.

On page six, the Williamson Art Gallery is mentioned and I quote:

Re-phasing the savings from Williamson Art Gallery (£100,000 of saving rephased to 2015/16)
The engagement of local people and ‘Friends’ groups has been welcomed in exploring new models for funding the Williamson Art Gallery in the future. It is acknowledged that more time is required to develop the proposals. Therefore the saving of £400,000 is to be delivered over the next two years, i.e. £150,000 in 2014/15 and £250,000 in 2015/16. Cabinet strongly favours keeping the Williamson open. This will be funded from reserves in 2014/15.”

The Williamson Art Gallery is in Oxton ward. Last time there was an election there it was won by the Liberal Democrats in 2012 by a majority of 263 votes (with Labour in second place). The two major issues raised by Lib Dems in Oxton in the recent past have been the future of the Williamson Art Gallery and whether schools (or Wirral Council) should fund school crossing patrols. Strangely enough school crossing patrols forms the next bit of Labour’s budget resolution which I quote here.

School Crossing Patrols
Cabinet believes the safety of children is paramount. In December Cabinet agreed to ask schools to take over the funding of school crossing patrols. Given the concerns expressed by a minority of schools, officers are instructed to continue discussions with schools with a guarantee that no funding is removed where agreement cannot be reached.”

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Cross-examination of Kane & Woodley, parties summarise their case in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

Cross-examination of Kane & Woodley, parties summarise their case in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

Cross-examination of Kane & Woodley, parties summarise their case in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

                    

Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (case 3BI05210)
Birkenhead County Court
13th February 2014
Court Room 1

Continues from Mrs Kane faces questions from Sarah O’Brien (barrister) and District Judge Woodburn in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm).

Mrs Kane is questioned by District Judge Woodburn
Mrs Kane asked why they would pay for a further twelve months of public liability insurance if the lease hadn’t been renewed? District Judge Woodburn said something brief to which Mrs Kane said that Wirral Council had been “ignoring us”. She said that Wirral Council could only get out of renewing a protected lease if they had broken the terms of the lease and referred to a letter from 2012. District Judge Woodburn referred to an agreement. Mrs Kane said yes, that they thought that Wirral Council agreed to renewal.

District Judge Woodburn asked Mrs Kane why she had not done as suggested in paragraph five (which refers to applying to the court)? Mrs Kane said she had spoken with David Dickenson in April or May and as far as she knew the lease was going through. The first thing she knew it hadn’t was in August when she received an invoice for £700. She rang the number and was told it was for rent because they’d given up the land which was the first thing she knew. Two days after she received details about Wirral Council’s request for a possession order. District Judge Woodburn said that Mrs Kane could return to her seat and swap with Mrs Woodley.

Mrs Woodley takes the witness stand
Mrs Woodley said, “I swear by Almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. District Judge Woodburn asked her name to which she replied “Valerie Patricia Woodley”. He asked her to have a seat and pointed out that she had not made a witness statement. District Judge Woodburn referred Mrs Woodley to a document at page fifteen and asked if it was her handwriting? She answered “yeah”. District Judge Woodburn asked her to go over the page to page seventeen and eighteen and asked if that was her handwriting? Mrs Woodley gave the same answer.

District Judge Woodburn asked if it was a statement made in support of the defence? She answered “yeah”. He asked her a further question, she answered then he said if she wished to she could have a seat.

Mrs Woodley is cross-examined by Sarah O’Brien
Sarah O’Brien, barrister for Wirral Council asked her to confirm the document was true, which referred to an alleged conversation between David Dickenson and Carol Kane. She said “yes”. Sarah O’Brien said that Mrs Woodley had no knowledge of the conversation as she had not taken part in it. Mrs Woodley explained that she had put that in because her mother was ill. Sarah O’Brien asked another brief question to which Mrs Woodley answered “no”.

Miss O’Brien asked Mrs Woodley if she accepted that she’d received a copy of the eviction notice which intended to end the business tenancy? Mrs Woodley answered “yes”. District Judge Woodburn referred to when she received the notice at page twenty-two in the bundle that it looked like that. He asked her to have a quick read of paragraph five. He referred to having to apply to the court to grant a new tenancy by the date in paragraph two (31st May) and whether she knew this? Mrs Woodley said that when her mum (Mrs Kane) was speaking she’d told her that they didn’t need to because they were in negotiations. District Judge Woodburn asked her if she had anything to add, she replied “no”. He asked her if she agreed with Mrs Kane to which she replied “yes” and if there was anything else she wished to add to which she replied “no”. District Judge Woodburn asked her to watch her step as she left the witness stand and that Mrs Kane and Mrs Woodley were not putting forward witnesses so he wanted both parties to summarise.

Mrs Kane asked if Cllr Ian Lewis (her McKenzie Friend) could summarise for her? District Judge Woodburn said “no”. She asked what about Martin Woodley? District Judge Woodburn said that Mr. Woodley was in the same position and that he thought both defendants could summarise in their own words what the case about. He said that they (the defendants) had done well up to now regarding their views. He said to summarise what the case is ultimately about is the fact that they didn’t apply to the court for a new tenancy, they said they didn’t do so because of what they were told which is their sole contention.

Mrs Kane summarises
Mrs Kane said that in forty years they’d never had a penny off Wirral Council. She continued by saying that many years ago when Wirral Council told them that they were moving them to a different place that Wirral Council had changed their minds and said they would not build on that site so they’d decided to stay. She said that they’d made new fences at a cost of thousands of pounds and repaired them after a storm. Mrs Kane said that she had been asking Wirral Council to be lenient about the cost of renewing the lease but they’d been stopped from renewing only because they were guilty of believing and trusting what Wirral Council were saying.

Mrs Woodley summarises
District Judge Woodburn asked if Mrs Woodley had anything to say? Mrs Woodley said that she agreed with her mother. She said that when they contacted Cllr Ian Lewis that he had confirmed that they must have taken the decision not to renew the lease. District Judge Woodburn referred to the evidence of David Dickenson with regards to his instructions. Mrs Woodley said that it was not from the Council. District Judge Woodburn said “that may be the case”. Mrs Woodley said that their “only crime was to trust” and that Wirral Council made it “impossible to renew the lease” and had done “everything possible to stop” them.

Sarah O’Brien (barrister for Wirral Council) summarises
District Judge Woodburn asked Sarah O’Brien to summarise Wirral Council’s case. Sarah O’Brien said that what the solicitor had provided was the prescribed form from the HMCS [Her Majesty’s Courts Service] website and that it was a standard form.

Ed – although she’s just repeating what she’s been told, the HMCS website doesn’t actually have this on it. The prescribed forms are part of the legislation and are on this website Schedule 2 of SI 2004/1005 (The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, Part 2 (Notices) Regulations 2004), a site that has UK laws on it run by the National Archives.

District Judge Woodburn said “yes, thanks”. Sarah O’Brien said that she would be very brief. Sarah O’Brien said the tenancy was properly terminated in accordance with the Act and that the only defence raised was estoppel. District Judge Woodburn said that the evidence of the two parties was different as to whether there was a binding agreement which would mean an application to the court was not required.

Sarah O’Brien referred to evidence that contradicted that assertion, as the defendant had sent a letter proposing alternative terms. She said that the defendants say that the communication with David Dickenson was highly relevant and important but that it didn’t appear in their defences which is not to say it didn’t take place. District Judge Woodburn asked someone to please not interrupt her.

Sarah O’Brien referred to pages thirty-seven and thirty-eight which referred to chasing a response. She said that if she had received an assurance regarding the terms agreed, then there was no need to be chasing a response. Miss O’Brien said that the evidence did not support the assertion that new terms were agreed.

The second point Miss O’Brien made was a further suggestion that David Dickenson had told Mrs Kane categorically that she did not need to apply to the Court. If this had been said they why didn’t it form part of the defence rather than vague assertions such as being told “not to worry”? Miss O’Brien said that the only reason was that it was not said. She continued by saying that the assertion made that David Dickenson told her “not to worry” needed a clear context and the representation was too vague for it to be reasonable that it could be relied upon.

Miss O’Brien said that the notices were received and read and it was not a question that they were prevented or couldn’t make an application to the court and that was why the lease was not protected. She said that whether Wirral Council agreed to the terms or there was estoppel were facts, therefore Wirral Council should be entitled to a possession order.

District Judge Woodburn said he was going to take a break to consider, then he would invited people back and give judgement on the factual issues. He thought it was best for everyone to have a break. He would let the usher and clerk know when he was ready. The court usher would then ask people to come back in.

Continues at District Judge Woodburn grants Wirral Council possession order: pony club given a year to leave Fernbank Farm.

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Mrs Kane faces questions from Sarah O’Brien (barrister) and District Judge Woodburn in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

Mrs Kane faces questions from Sarah O’Brien (barrister) and District Judge Woodburn in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

Mrs Kane faces questions from Sarah O’Brien (barrister) and District Judge Woodburn in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm)

                        

Continues from Mrs Kane takes the witness stand in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm).

Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (case 3BI05210)
Birkenhead County Court
13th February 2014
Court Room 1

Mrs Kane on the witness stand
Mrs Kane continued by saying that after her letter, she spoke to David Dickenson and told him she was going to hospital and that she wanted it all sorted before that.

Mrs Kane is cross-examined by Sarah O’Brien
District Judge Woodburn gave Sarah O’Brien (barrister for Wirral Council) an opportunity to cross-examine Mrs Kane. Sarah O’Brien asked Mrs Kane if she had said that she rang David Dickenson in May 2013 as Mrs Kane was concerned she had not heard from him? Mrs Kane replied “yes”.

Sarah O’Brien said something I couldn’t hear to which Mrs Kane replied that she’d been told that she’d hear from them [Wirral Council] about the new lease but she didn’t hear until 2012.

Wirral Council’s barrister asked Mrs Kane when she received the eviction notice had she read it? Mrs Kane answered yes. To clarify whether she was answering yes to receiving the notice or having read it District Judge Woodburn asked her if she’d read the eviction notice to which she answered that she had read the notice yes.

Miss O’Brien said that Mrs Kane had told David Dickenson she wanted to renew the lease on the Council’s terms, however that she was only prepared to renew on new terms. Mrs Kane explained she had asked him if he could help with the expenses as previously the legal fees had been reduced from £500 to £300. The only other term that she wanted changed was a rent increase of 2.5% and David Dickenson had told her he would make a site visit to discuss it.

Sarah O’Brien said that the letter sent sets out Mrs Kane’s terms which were not the same terms that were put forward by Wirral Council. Mrs Kane said that she wanted to renew the lease and had spoken to David Dickenson and told him that if he couldn’t do anything then to send the papers back to her. She had told David Dickenson that she wanted negotiations on the lease finished by the end of May and referred to an email from David Dickenson that stated that Mrs Kane had until May 31st.

The barrister for Wirral Council said that there was no reference in the defence to terms being agreed. Mrs Kane had that a “lot has gone missing”. Sarah O’Brien said it was a fact that terms (for the new lease) were suggested. District Judge Woodburn said that it was an important point if it’s said that Wirral Council accepted the terms of the new lease.

Mrs Kane referred to a telephone call. Sarah O’Brien asked her when the telephone call was? She answered towards the end of April. Mrs Kane said that she had been trying to get in touch with David Dickenson but all her called were being ignored. There had been no response to her letters and since 2012 David Dickenson had ignored her phone calls.

She had said that she had spoken with David Dickenson on the phone twice, but at all other times she had been told her was on site visits, in a meeting, that he would get back to her or that his father had died. Mrs Kane understood David Dickenson was a busy man but he was not answering her.

Sarah O’Brien said that she (Mrs Kane) didn’t get an answer to her letter to David Dickenson. She referred to page thirty-eight in the bundle and a reference to a phone call of 23rd May where it stated that Mrs Kane was awaiting a response (to her letter). Mrs Kane said that David Dickenson was ignoring her phone calls. Sarah O’Brien said that she didn’t contact David Dickenson as there was no reference in the earlier document.

Mrs Kane referred to emails which said to answer Mrs Kane’s phone calls and that this was in Wirral Council’s emails. Sarah O’Brien said that it was clear from the record of the phone call that at that point Mrs Kane hadn’t had a response (from David Dickenson). Mrs Kane said she had rung Mr. Dickenson and told him that they were willing to pay but if he can’t do it to send it back and that Mr. Dickenson knew that, she hadn’t been able to get in touch with Mr. Dickenson since. In 2012 she was told that Mr. Dickenson was at a funeral and that Peter Jones could take over.

Sarah O’Brien referred to the document containing the original defence and the point where Mrs Kane said that David Dickenson said “not to worry”. Mrs Kane said that at the beginning of May she couldn’t get in touch with David Dickenson and that he’d had the “shock of his life” when he answered the phone to her. She had asked him to send her an email if he could not do anything and to send the forms back, the public liability insurance receipt and the cheques. Mr. Dickenson had told her “not to worry” because he’d do it.

The barrister for Wirral Council asked her if in the same conversation that David Dickenson says he accepted the terms, to which Mrs Kane answered “yep”. Sarah O’Brien said that conversation was at the beginning of May and referred to something that referred to Mrs Kane phoning and saying she had had no response to her letter. Mrs Kane referred to an email that showed that David Dickenson knew about the deadline of the 31st May. Sarah O’Brien said she had no further questions for Mrs Kane.

District Judge Woodburn asks Mrs Kane questions
District Judge Woodburn referred to page eighteen and the eviction notice. He directed Mrs Kane to paragraph four which stated “If we cannot agree on all the terms of a new tenancy, either you or I may ask the court to order the grant of a new tenancy” and paragraph 5 which stated “If you wish to ask the court for a new tenancy you must do so by the date in paragraph 2” which was the 31st May 2013.

Mrs Kane said that she had spoken with Mr. Dickenson at the beginning of May to tell him and asked him about it and she’d asked Mrs Carman. When she’d asked Mrs Carman who was taking over Mrs Carman had answered Peter Jones. Mrs Kane said that she’d been told by Mr. Dickenson that if they were negotiating a new lease that she didn’t need to apply to the court. District Judge Woodburn said that Wirral Council hadn’t agreed anything and that there was no evidence of any agreement by Wirral Council.

Continues at Cross-examination of Kane & Woodley, parties summarise their case in Wirral Council v Kane and Woodley (Fernbank Farm).

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