Chairmans Report 2019
With the 2019 Local elections looming fast it is time to take stock of our
position and look to the future.
The Campaign to save Deangate began on 29th January 2018 when Medway
council gave notice (only 5 clear days) that it’s Cabinet, under the leadership
of Councillor Alan Jarrett would consider a decision brought forward by
Councilor Howard Doe to close the Deangate ridge Golf course (open in
1972) on the 6th February 2018.
The decision was to be taken without any public consultation and without
proper notice of intent. Golfers, residents and the public alike were incensed
by the injustice of the lack of proper notice and lack of public consultation over
the closure of this much loved community asset.
A public petition was quickly prepared for the Cabinet meeting asking the
council to consider new business models to increase income or to tender the
management of the club to a private provider prior to a decision of closing the
club as part of a proper viability assessment started both online at Change.org
and by physically signature.
The public took up the challenge of signing the petition in time for the meeting
and some 1215 physical signatures were collected by 2pm on the 4th
February 2018. Cabinet did not acknowledge the petition and the decision
was taken to close Deangate on 31st March 2018.
By 16th February a further 426 signatories were collected online at change.org
and 2105 physically making a total of 3746. It also became clear that there
were now four options open:-
• To have the decision to closed Deangate revisited by having it called
into the Overview and scrutiny Committee and that committee
overturning the decision, referring it to full council or refer it back to the
cabinet for review.
• To attempt to broker an Expression of Interest between a leading
National charitable sports provider who specialises in running golf
• To set up a financial fund to be able to refer the whole legal process to
• To register the whole of the Deangate complex as an Asset of
• With the Help of Andrew Stamp of the Medway Labour group who sits on the
Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview And Scrutiny
Committee, the cabinet decision to close Deangate was called into the
Overview and Scrutiny committee. The Chairman Trevor Clarke gave notice
that he would allow six petitioners to address the committee for 5 minutes
each. The meeting was held at St Georges Centre on the evening of the 12th
March 2018 and was attended by a very large number of petitioners. The six
DCP members Joanne De La Porte, George Crozer, Vicky Finneran, Steff
Malone, Ron Sands and Tom Crozer (on behalf of Geoff Westlake) presented
their arguments against the Closure of Deangate. Medway Labour group
supported with very convincing arguments to have the decision over turned
and reviewed by the full Council. The final vote taken was in favour of
referring the decision to close back to the Cabinet.
Expression of Interest (EOI)
Under the Localism Act 2011 An EOI gives the community, in conjunction with
a partner, the right to challenge aims to give communities more opportunities
to shape and run local public services where they believe they can do so
better or cheaper,
With the knowledge of the call in it was now of paramount importance to
prepare an Expression of Interest.
Through its contacts the group approached a leading charity, which was well
known for providing golf facilities. A representative of the charity visited the
course and was confident and enthusiastic that they could profitably run the
course during an interim period required for due diligence to take place
between the Council and the charity. The representative was also confident
that Deangate could make a welcome addition to the charities portfolio whilst
giving Medway council a reasonable financial return. In consultation with the
representative a detailed EOI was prepared on this basis and submitted to
Medway Council on the afternoon of 12th March 2018 and before the Call in
meeting at 6.30pm
The Cabinet now had an Expression of interest to run Deangate at a profit and
the recommendation of the Overview and scrutiny committee to review the
decision to close. A special cabinet meeting was called for the 28th March
2018. At that meeting the decision to close Deangate was reconsidered and
closure reaffirmed with a new date of the 14th April 2018. Officers were asked
to consider the EOI during which time no demolition on the site was to take
place. At a cabinet meeting of the 12th June 2018.
It considered a report providing an assessment of the expression of interest,
submitted to the Council by the Deangate Community Partnership, to deliver
community sport, wellbeing and leisure activities at the Deangate Ridge Golf
and Sports Complex.
The report noted that the Council had received a letter dated 16 April 2018
from the charity which stated that the expression of interest had been
submitted without their authority or agreement.
The Council report explained that the expression of interest had met the
requirements of Section 81(1)(a) of the Localism Act 2011 and therefore the
Council was required to consider whether the expression of interest met the
requirements set out in Section 81(1)(b) of the Act.
The Council report also explained ten grounds on which the expression of
interest may be rejected and concluded that the expression of interest be
rejected on six grounds. It was duly rejected.
Asset of Community Value.
In England, an asset of community value (ACV) is land or property of
importance to a local community which is subject to additional protection
from development under the Localism Act 2011.
A nomination to have the Land Known as Deangate Ridge was submitted
before the cabinet meeting of 28th March 2018. It was acknowledged as
correct and submitted to Medways legal department on 10 April 2018 and
approved on 1st June 2018.
In consultation with its Solicitors the only option open to us now was to
attempt to mount a legal Challenge.
Before we could proceed to this stage Barristers would have to confirm a good
chance of success, as the process would be extremely costly and would
involve a member of the group becoming personably liable for costs should
the challenge fail. Pledges of financial support for the first phase requiring
around £10,000 were solicited from members of the group and the general
public. A crowd funding web site called Crowd Justice was engaged.
Donations totaling £8795.55 were received by direct donation and £2311.09
was raised via the crowd Justice website. The Crowd Justice donations were
paid and held by the Solicitor whilst public donations were held in a bank
Crowd Justice terms required a minimum level to be reached before fund
could be released and required a top up to enable from direct donations.
Our solicitors (Tassells) were instructed to seek an opinion from Barristers at
Our Barrister carefully consider the actions of the Council with a view to
finding a legal error, for example breach of a duty to consult or flawed decision
making amounting to ‘irrationality’. He remarked “We have been hunting for
conclusive evidence but it may be concluded that the Council have been
particularly careful in the main to avoid saying anything that might create real
difficulties for them.” And further remarked “This all needs to be put in the
context of the remedy of Judicial Review generally. It is always very difficult to
bring a challenge against a Local Authority’s budgetary and/or policy
decisions. The Courts are extremely reluctant to interfere in such matters.
In summing up he suggested pursuing our Expression of Interest and trying to
find a recreational use for the site. “This would need to go hand in hand with
strong participation in the Local Plan process, and it is reasonably clear that
there are good arguments to support this, not to mention the volte-face which