Chorleywood Parish Council has been instructed to pay Three Rivers District Council £10,000 a year for rent, despite an agreement between the two councils that means TRDC has to provide the parish council with free accommodation for perpetuity.
The deal was made between the two councils following a local government reorganisation in 1972, during which the ownership of Chorleywood House and Estate passed from the parish to the district council.
CWPC occupied a number of rooms in Chorleywood House until TRDC decided to sell the property in 1992 for a fee in excess of £1.2million.
Part of an agreement following the sale ensured that the parish council had a legal right to remain as tenants of a building, or that TRDC had to provide other suitable accommodation.
The Parish Council have leased their current location at South Lodge since the sale of Chorleywood House and Estate for a peppercorn rent, but now they have been presented with a rent bill for £10,000 per annum.
Even more perplexing to Chorleywood Parish Council is the timing of the rent bill, which they claim was served to them on March 5, one month after they had set their precepts, leaving the parish council with no budget provision to pay for the bill.
With no provisions in place for CWPC to pay such a bill, this ordinarily would have to be picked up by the tax-payer. However, the timing of the bill means CWPC cannot enforce such payments. They claim they were given no need to feel like such preparation was necessary.
According to Chorleywood parish council, TRDC councillors have responded to their complaints and argued that other parish councils are required to pay rent, but Chorleywood argue that those other councils have never relinquished possession of a million-pound property before and say they are now seeking legal advice for the best way to pursue the matter.
A spokesperson for Chorleywood Parish Council said: “The parish council is shocked by the demand for £10,000 per annum for rental of South Lodge and question the timing of the demand.
“We are currently seeking legal advice.”
Three Rivers District Council would not be drawn into a formal response, with a spokesperson simply stating: “This matter is the subject of an ongoing and commercially sensitive dialogue between Chorleywood Parish Council and Three Rivers District Council.
“TRDC does not conduct important negotiations through the media and therefore declines to make further comment on this occasion.”