Watermill owner's case collapses

AN attempt by the co-owner of a historic watermill to prove a council exceeded its powers in carrying out work to prevent its collapse has failed.The Department for Culture, Media and Sport ruled yesterday the work carried out by Babergh District Council on the grade II-listed Sproughton watermill had been reasonable and had not involved unnecessary cost.

AN attempt by the co-owner of a historic watermill to prove a council exceeded its powers in carrying out work to prevent its collapse has failed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport ruled yesterday the work carried out by Babergh District Council on the grade II-listed Sproughton watermill had been reasonable and had not involved unnecessary cost.

Co-owner of the mill, Steven Jones, of the Elm Estate, East Bergholt, had asked the department for a ruling on the necessity for and quality of the work carried out in 1996 on the 19th Century building.

The co-owners had been billed for the initial shoring up and subsequent work to demolish and rebuild a corner of the mill at an estimated cost of £80,000.


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A Babergh District Council spokesman said its objectives had been to protect a listed building in danger of collapse and to recover council taxpayers' money used to finance the essential repair works when the owners failed to comply with urgent repairs notices.

He added: "We are pleased that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport recognised the correctness of Babergh's actions in trying to preserve Sproughton Mill."

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Mr Jones and his sister, Josie Descorts, acquired the derelict mill in the centre of Sproughton in 1995. It had been empty since 1947 and had been on the Suffolk register of buildings at risk since 1992.

Babergh District Council's conservation officer brought the problems of its deteriorating state to the authority's attention and work was carried out to safeguard the building from further decay.

In 1999, after no payment had been received from the owners, Mr Jones was ordered by Colchester County Court to pay £20,000.

Babergh District Council successfully petitioned in December 2002 for Mr Jones to be declared bankrupt in an attempt to recover some of the money it had spent.

Mr Jones was not available for comment.

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