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Furlong Close update

April 9, 2021 7:43 AM

Wiltshire Council continues to peddle misleading information defending the outgoing Conservative administration's position, which is: "The evictions are nothing to do with us. HfT, which owns and runs the site, has decided to close it so that's that."

Campaigners seeking to save the site and allow the residents to stay in their homes say:

The true position is that there is an unresolved dispute in the proceedings about who was responsible for the decision to close Furlong Closed, which has not been decided. That dispute arises because Hft has consistently maintained that the decision to close Furlong Close was a "joint decision", which was initiated and led by Wiltshire Council. Hft has further said that, in attempting to portray the decision as one taken solely by Hft, the Council has "lied" and is trying to avoid responsibility for an unpopular decision by "hiding behind" Hft.

In the Order made by the Judge on 25 March 2021:

  • His Honour Judge Cotter QC notes (in paragraph 5), the existence of what he describes as "an unfortunate and unedifying factual dispute" between Hft and Wiltshire Council "about what, if any decision-making process has actually been followed, and who was responsible for the decision"; and
  • Importantly, his Honour then observes "That dispute remains live". It is quite clear from the Order that his Honour did NOT resolve that dispute, but left it open for future consideration. In the context of the preliminary ruling he was being asked to make on 25 March, all that his Honour decided (on page 3) is that it was "arguable" that the decision was one taken by Hft, so that the matter should proceed to a full hearing and determination at the end of May.

In fact, the FOI material obtained by the families tends to support the conclusion that the decision was indeed a "joint" one; for instance, the contemporaneous correspondence includes reference, by Wiltshire Council officers, to "a mutual commitment to a phased move on for all Wiltshire funded clients to alternative accommodation" (emphasis added).