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Pool-ban councillor defends actions

PUBLISHED: 19:09 07 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

A COUNTY councillor has defended his actions in a dispute over the £17,000-plus costs of rebuilding a wall which has led to a ban on swimming for schoolchildren.

A COUNTY councillor has defended his actions in a dispute over the £17,000-plus costs of rebuilding a wall which has led to a ban on swimming for schoolchildren.

Nigel Barratt, a town, district and county councillor in Woodbridge, said he sympathised with the parents and pupils of New Street primary school.

Mr Barratt lives in the Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, and one of his garden walls forms a boundary with the primary school.

On the school side of the wall there is an open-air pool. The pool is out of bounds after health and safety experts feared the wall could collapse and endanger anyone using the pool.

The county council wants the unsafe section of the wall to be rebuilt and it says it could not agree to pay for the repairs to a wall "which we do not own or maintain."

Nicholas Marshall, a solicitor acting for Mr Barratt, said he had received a letter from the council this week which stated they expected Mr Barratt to rebuild the wall and it would cost £17,000 or more.

Mr Marshall said: "The deeds contain no legal obligation for my client to maintain the wall, the ownership of which is open to question. Despite that the council have made no offer to contribute any part of the cost of maintenance even though they have chosen to construct the pool immediately next to the wall.

"What is clear from the deeds is that the county council themselves raised the height of the wall many years ago and it is precisely that top part of the wall which they say is in danger of collapse.

"The wall is in perfectly satisfactory condition for the purpose for which it was constructed, namely as a dividing wall between two properties. The problem only arises because the council has firstly chosen to locate the pool where it has and secondly because they failed to maintain their side of the wall."

Mr Barratt said: "I am saddened at the manner in which this situation deteriorated outside my control, and which has encouraged a political dimension to be introduced into what is essentially a private dispute. I believe that my position as a councillor is being undermined and my ability to undertake council business is damaged. I am seeking advice as to redress."

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