Vale Council's key-gate costs taxpayer

GATEKEEPER: Cllr Philip Clarke could now be the owner of the UK's most expensive key?

GATEKEEPER: Cllr Philip Clarke could now be the owner of the UK's most expensive key?

First published in News

A VALE councillor has been awarded £3,000 in compensation and the Vale Council liable for costs following a dispute over a key.

Vale Rhoose ward councillor, Philip Clarke, said he believed the authority would have to fork out a six-figure sum after a court action found in his favour after a lock was attached to a gate preventing his legal right of access from his property south along Cwm-Ciddy Lane to Porthkerry Park.

The action initiated by neighbours, he said, was supported by the Vale Council.

The Vale Council declined to comment on Cllr Clarke’s situation or reveal how much the case will now cost the taxpayer.

Cllr Clarke said: “My requests to remove the lock were refused on a number of occasions which left me with no other option but to take legal action to uphold our right of way. I was taken aback at the outset as these senior council officers had indulged my neighbours by attending meetings with them collectively, and were not remotely interested in providing a key to re-establish our legal access.

“Their action was one sided and not in the public interest as there was a possibility of the council losing this legal case with the cost implications to the public purse.”

Cllr Clarke said he tried to resolve the matter by requesting a key following his election, but was refused and the authority contacted a London barrister, requested a site visit and three-day hearing at Cardiff Crown Court and amended its defence increasing legal costs.

His offer to drop the case with both parties covering their own costs, was refused.

He said: “Some months later we received the judgment informing us that we had won our case which meant that the council had to foot the legal bill of our costs and theirs which I understand was in excess of six figures and to provide us with keys to unlock the gate.

“Our claim could have been settled with a key at the outset. The council were in partisan with the defendants and should have scrutinised their testimony prior to embarking on this futile waste of taxpayer’s money.”

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