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Taxpayer calls for explanation over Torquay seafront balloon rent row

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

  • flashback: The balloon in tatters after the storms earlier this year and previously flying above Torre Abbey gardens

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A COUNCIL taxpayer has called for a public explanation about when Torbay Council expects to recover £50,000 allegedly owed by the operators of the Torquay seafront balloon.

William Ward, of Torquay, claims the rent dispute between the council and the operators of the Hi-Flyer attraction has dragged on long enough.

Balloon operators Lindstrand has not paid £50,000 to Torbay Council since April, 2009, 'due to an ongoing legal dispute in relation to the lease'.

Mr Ward says he is not satisfied with continued delays in making the details of the dispute public.

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He says he will keep campaigning for answers.

In an open letter, he says: "As the situation remains the same a year after the demise of the attraction and a total of four years legal wrangling, I think it timely and reasonable to call for some public explanation."

He claims: "I contend that the total cost to the community of the whole failed project is probably nearer £100,000 to date and our representatives should be answerable."

Mr Ward says he has been told the local government ombudsman will not look at the issue as he has 'not been directly caused an injustice' by the matter.

The balloon has not risen since it was damaged by high winds in January.

Knowledge of the dispute was made public in March after two residents made Freedom of Information requests to the council.

Mayor Gordon Oliver subsequently rejected calls for an inquiry by an ombudsman, saying legal teams were in negotiation with each other.

He subsequently rejected an appeal for an inquiry.

A spokesman for Torbay Council declined to comment, citing information on the matter was 'legally privileged'.

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  • iseveryidused  |  January 07 2013, 1:30AM

    I should imagine that the reason rent hasn't been paid is because it wasn't financially viable, in fact I suspect the balloon company were relieved when it was destroyed as they would have at least been able to make an insurance claim and draw a line under it. I think it's a real shame, but the unreliable weather just made the thing too sketchy. At least I managed a couple of flights before it was destroyed.

  • realityzone  |  December 30 2012, 7:47PM

    Azriel, I entirely agree that holding local government to account for their actions - or inactions in this case - should be one of the prime objectives of the local press. The problem with this newspaper is that it is hugely enthusiastic when it comes to holding some people in local government accountable for their actions but rather less enthusiastic about holding other people to account. The quality of its journalism continues to lack credibility therefore.

    |   3
  • neeneeoil  |  December 30 2012, 6:44PM

    Who wrote the lease? Would he / she / they care to make a comment?

    |   5
  • oddman  |  December 29 2012, 8:43PM

    with all the sad stories over Christmas this year (children in 2 car accidents, man murdered on xmas eve etc etc, who cares?. Get a grip people and take a reality check!

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  • realityzone  |  December 29 2012, 3:47PM

    Azriel, surely you can see that at some point the outcome of the legal negotiations will conclude and will have to become public. Depending on how the Council comes out of that an enquiry might be appropriate. If there is an enquiry I hope to returns to how the balloon contract was set up and why the then administration, including the former Mayor, were so keen on this project that they defied the covenants on the land.

    |   9
  • Azriel22  |  December 29 2012, 12:30PM

    @Realityzone 8.21 I would have thought that holding local government to account for their actions - or inactions in this case - is one of the prime objectives of the local press. It's quite bad enough that we are reduced to once a week publication as it is. Surely you would agree that a full four years is quite long enough to argue over an apparently faultily written lease? We all know the matter will be kicked into the long grass eventually.

    |   11
  • realityzone  |  December 29 2012, 8:21AM

    Quite Right Dave_David and helps to prove my point. People don't like facts, the simple fact here is that we have to await the outcome of the legal case but the H & E will re-cycle this non story every few weeks in the meantime.

    |   1
  • Dave_David  |  December 28 2012, 11:05PM

    realityzone....seven people did not you remark either.

  • plughole  |  December 28 2012, 4:27PM

    Disgraceful, this should have been sorted a long time ago and the money paid

    |   16
  • realityzone  |  December 28 2012, 7:33AM

    Bleach and Sinjis - as you can see from your votes , ill informed mouths shooting off on this site are likely to be more popular than pointing out facts - says it all really.