Last week, the chairman of the Alliance political party set up to oppose Calverley Square theatre and civic centre development, falsely accused the council of covering up the fact that it owns a part share in the site.
Dr Robert Chris based his allegations on a 72-year-old document he unearthed at the Land Registry that suggested the council owned part of the 1930s art deco building after it was handed over to Kent Police in the late 40s.
He said: “This unpopular and secretive Council has been caught out once again. Now that we’ve uncovered this evidence, the Tories should halt its planned sale in its tracks and for once think about the people of this borough.”
The Police Station, which Kent PCC Matthew Scott has just confirmed is no longer up for sale, sits next to the council-owned Assembly Hall Theatre, which Dr Chris suggests could be used as an alternative to the council £90million Calverley Square project.
He claimed: “Clearly, by including the police station, there is greater scope for more imaginative and probably cheaper solutions to the problems presented by the Town Hall and Assembly Hall Theatre. These solutions were not previously considered in depth because the police station was not then available.”
However, when asked by the Times for evidence of his claim, Dr Chris’ allegations did not stand up to scrutiny.
While the historical records he uncovered show the council did hold rights over the police station around 70 years ago, current Land Registry documents show only the Police and Crime Commissioner has ‘Title Absolute’ to the building, meaning the council has no share in the police station.
A spokesperson for HM Land Registry said: “Title Absolute is the best class of title. If only one person is registered as Title Absolute then they solely own the building and nobody else can challenge that ownership.”
Matthew Scott’s office has also confirmed that that the building was ‘100 per cent’ owned by the PCC. And Leader Alan McDermott added that council lawyers confirmed more than a decade ago the council’s position on the property.
He said: “The Council reviewed its legal position in relation to the police station as long ago as 2006. Accordingly, the legal position is absolutely clear that TWBC has no entitlement to share in the freehold interest and no user rights.”
Dr Chris said yesterday [Tuesday] that he stood by his allegations.
“It is entirely possible that there could have been an historical error that has unwittingly been replicated over an extended period and is only now coming to light because after decades the police station is back in play,” he said.