Local Government Ombudsman to investigate BCC
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) confirmed in May that it will investigate alleged maladministration by Bristol City Council over decisions made about the Stoke Lodge site in Stoke Bishop.
Emma Burgess, one of 1,200 members of campaign group, We Love Stoke Lodge said: “It’s very good news. We intended to take Bristol City Council to a judicial review but our barrister advised that the Ombudsman has stronger powers. We were delighted when the news came in.”
Thousands of Bristolians from three wards surrounding the controversial Stoke Lodge site were left so shocked at the extent of what they believe to be maladministration, wholly inadequate and erroneous decisions and multiple errors of law by Bristol City Council that they have complained to the LGSCO, which has confirmed it will now investigate. The saga about fencing off part of the land for Cotham School sport lessons has run for eight years and looks set to continue as documents disclosed as part of legal action left the community reeling and seeking redress against the council.
In the hope of persuading Bristol City Council to review a surprise U-turn on its approach to fencing at Stoke Lodge late last year, a Pre-Action Protocol Letter (the step before legal action) was issued to BCC by the www.welovestokelodge.co.uk group. This letter set out the legal arguments as to why the council should not have allowed Cotham School to build a 1.5km, 2 metre high security fence around the 22-acre site in north Bristol which is designated as Important Open Space and where the lease is subject to community use. Because of this letter various documents were disclosed and some of the revelations have been included in the complaint to the LGSCO.
The LGSCO will investigate a complaint which covers several matters including but not limited to Bristol City Council reversing a 20-year view on curtilage which campaigners claim is based on inadequate and biased material provided by an interested party and retro fits legal advice to a decision already made.
Several local councillors and Darren Jones MP for Bristol North West Bristol have also added their voices asking Bristol City Council to explain how it reached its decisions.