Council slammed in road row ‘eviction’

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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A High Court judge has sensationally slammed Blackpool Council after it tried to evict a lawyer who was suing the town hall over the state of the resort’s roads.

Solicitor Joanna Trafford said the authority had wasted £50,000 of taxpayers’ money defending its bid to kick her out of the council-owned
office from where she runs her ‘no win, no fee’ business.

And she accused council leader Simon Blackburn, (right), of “insulting” her.

A judicial review quashed the council’s decision to end Ms Trafford’s tenancy at the Blackpool Enterprise Centre, on Lytham Road, South Shore.

Her firm – Norths Solicitors – has represented clients who have launched legal action against the council 
for slips, trips and falls.

Council chiefs said the nature of Ms Trafford’s personal 
injury firm was “contrary to the stated aims and objectives of the council.”

But, sitting at Manchester High Court, yesterday, Judge Stephen Davies ruled against the council. He said: “It seems to me the (council’s) decision can be categorised as either vindictive or irrational.”

The judge also said he felt it had been an act of “retaliation” on the council’s part against the solicitor.

Ms Trafford, a single mother-of-two who set up her business in 2008, told The Gazette: “I’m relieved and delighted by this judgement of the High Court which has totally vindicated me and my firm.

“It’s a very serious matter and an abuse of power for the council to seek to punish my firm just because I fight for the rights of local people injured by the dreadful state our roads in this town are in.

“The council has acted very badly in this matter.

“ I’m calling for a public investigation into whose decision it was to refuse another lease to me – not least for the waste of more than £50,000 of public money in legal costs incurred by the council.”

Ms Trafford said less than five per cent of the cases she deals with involve the council and are usually as a result of slips, trips or falls on roads and pavements in the town.

The council’s Corporate Asset Management Group, which meets to discuss its property portfolio, agreed to end Ms Trafford’s lease on 
November 27, 2012.

This was despite an admission by CAMG members that her removal would put financial pressure on the budget of the centre.