LEAKED DOCUMENT: The full Ashton Vale letter they don't want you to see

by The Bristol Blogger
on Tuesday 28 Feb 2012

type: Feature
topic: Local Government
region: Bristol
OSCAILTIMAGE(attachments/feb2012/707746_photo_1.jpg 250 0)


As was reported by ALL the media, Bristol City Council published a press statement on Monday 20 February announcing that the judicial review of the the council’s decision to split Town Green land at Ashton Vale had been halted and that as a result there were now no obstacles to Bristol City FC's stadium being built.

The press statement is here http://www.bristol.gov.uk/node/10557 and it is alleged that Cllr Simon Cook ignored officer advice when making this statement. Officers, of course, are there to speak truth to power but it seems that the Deputy Leader of the council didn't want to listen to any legal advice.

Later on the same day the council provided a redacted copy of the letter from the anonymous applicant, identified as SDR, which is available here: http://www.bristol247.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Letter-to-Admin-Court-Office.pdf
However, the letter is unlawful and the reason becomes clear when you are able to read a relatively uncut copy of the same letter which is posted with this article.

In the uncut version, which has been made available to all the major news media in the city but has not been mentioned by any of them, it is clear that item 5 in the letter makes the step-son of SDR his legal guardian.  At the bottom of the letter it is equally clear that the sole witness to the letter is the same step-son.
A legal guardian is a person who has legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of another person usually called a ward. A person is given the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability. Witnessing is designed to ensure that the person signing away the power to make their own decisions has not been forced into signing the document. However, if the witness is also the person being given the power, that assumption of 'no force' disappears. For that reason, in UK law, becoming a witness precludes the individual in question from also being a beneficiary of the agreement. This is a basic legal concept and it is difficult to understand how Bristol City Council, with access to a legal department, could have accepted the letter as valid and lawful.   
Indeed, in the absence of any evidence that SDR is mentally incapacitated or ill, a responsible council should be expressing concern that the witness having power of attorney over SDR means that SDR no longer has any power to make any decisions about his own actions. Only the witness is empowered.
Why has the witness been given this power except to restrain SDRs actions?  
In their haste to conclude an end to the dispute over the Ashton Vale Town Green/stadium development, Bristol City Council appears to have forgotten its duty of care to one of its citizens and they appear to have made no effort to contact the individual concerned to ensure his wellbeing and safety.

Meanwhile, the applicants have now been granted leave to continue with the judicial review despite Cook's claims that the matter had ended while Cllr Peter Abraham's sense of relief at being let off the hook for his mishandling of Ashton Vale residents' concerns over the wrongful registration of the land approved by his Roghts of Way committee has also been short lived.

Instead the council are now scrambling to appeal, relying on a second letter from the applicant claiming that his first letter is valid despite its dubious legal status. The fact that if the first letter is valid then the second letter can only be valid if it is written by the step-son appears to be lost on the council.

More on this soon.