A COMPLAINT has been launched against council chiefs who deny claims an agreement with the landlord of Wellesbourne Airfield has been breached.
The airfield’s biggest operator, Take Flight Aviation was evicted from the site earlier this year after it led a legal case to stop the landlord, Littler Investments, from selling the land to developers.
After the case and an appeal were lost by the tenants, which included South Warwickshire Flying School, Aeros Aviation and Touchdown Cafe, the district council stepped in to make a compulsory purchase order of the site to safeguard to future of general aviation.
But negotiations continued between Littler Investments and Stratford District Council (SDC) over the future of the airfield which the owner wants to retain ‘alongside other uses’.
A ‘memorandum of understanding’ (MoU) was drawn up which included an offer of 12 month lease extensions to the businesses.
But Take Flight was not offered the extension and accused the owner of discriminating against the business for its role in the legal campaign.
The MoU included conditions the landlord must enter into dialogue with the tenants at the airfield and, if discussions were constructive, to offer the tenants new 12 month tenancies.
The school, along with Wellesbourne Parish Council, claims because there had been no discussion between Take Flight and the landlord, the MoU was breached. But SDC has denied the claim.
And when questioned, during a recent public questions meeting, SDC deputy leader Daren Pemberton refused to answer Mr Roberts when he asked him to justify the council’s stance that no breach had been made.
Mr Roberts then asked whether the council would prevent the further demise of the airfield – which the school believes is being purposefully neglected by the landlord – by acknowledging a breach and ceasing the agreement, and allowing Take Flight to return.
Coun Pemberton, answered ‘no’ for a second time prompting Mr Roberts to begin a formal complaint procedure.
Mr Roberts argued former district council leader Christopher Saint had suggested without the work done by Take Flight Aviation the airfield would have already been closed, and claims the landlord had acknowledged the reason they did not offer a lease to the school was because it had thwarted plans to develop the land.
He added: “Despite this SDC’s actions have facilitated the landowners in allowing them to breach the MoU unchallenged, that has resulted in the further demise of the airfield, the loss of 20 jobs and a considerable financial loss to Take Flight Aviation terminating their business at the site, in addition to substantial legal fees incurred since the MoU was signed by both parties and instantly breached.
“SDC have steadfastly refused to accept that there has been a breach in the MOU agreement despite representations from the Parish Council and a sworn statement from an airfield user who assisted York Aviation – SDC’s aviation experts – with their report, who acknowledged categorically that the MoU had been breached.”
A spokeswoman said the council was unable to comment on a formal complaint.