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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Roger McKimm flags row latest

House of Lords

TOWN hall chiefs don’t know how much public money it spent taking a couple to court over decorations on a building.

Barrow Borough Council brought the legal proceedings against Roger and Paula McKimm for failing to remove St George flags from the House of Lords pub in Abbey Road.

But after the red and white England emblems were finally taken off the Grade-II listed building, the council pulled the plug on the proceedings.

The Evening Mail tried to find out how much public money the council had forked out on the case by submitting a Freedom of Information
request to Barrow Town Hall.

But Jane Holden, Barrow Borough Council’s corporate services officer, said: “The council holds no recorded information detailing the
exact or estimated costs of this case.

“The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides access to recorded information only. The act does not require the council to estimate costs in order to respond to a request.”

The council admits it could have pursued the case and tried to get its costs back – but decided not to bother.

Mrs Holden said: “It was unlikely it would succeed. The notices ordering the removal of the flags had been complied with and pursuing the case would have incurred further costs.

“When making decisions such as this, the council must always balance the need for prosecution against costs, whilst also considering the public interest.”

According to the council, St George flags were installed on windows and doors of the House of Lords during the football World Cup in 2006.

The council thought the flags spoiled the building but they were okay to stay up until a week after the tournament. But when that time arrived, the decorations were still there.

The council decided to take enforcement action against Mr and Mrs McKimm, ordering them to remove the flags.

On June 14 this year, the council began legal proceedings against Mr and Mrs McKimm, claiming they had failed to comply with an
enforcement notice. Both denied the offence by post on August 26, the council said.

Two days later, the council had it confirmed the flags had gone and its corporate services director, solicitor Ola Oduwole, decided to withdraw the case.

An appeal against the council’s enforcement action had been made to a government-appointed inspector. But the inspector, John Waldron, backed the council and ruled the decor had to go.

Mr Waldron said: “The painted flags dominate the relevant elevations of the building and have an overbearing impact on the appearance of the building.”

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