Pioneer LABV scrapped by partners

Tue 20th November 2012, 12:21 pm

One of the UK's first local asset backed vehicles has dissolved, with a council being forced to pay an early termination fee to its private partner.

Tunbridge Wells: fee paid to former LABV partner
Image copyright Nigel Chadwick,

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) and John Laing have dissolved their partnership agreement to regenerate four Kent towns – Royal Tunbridge Wells, Cranbrook, Paddock Wood and Southborough.

The partnership, created in December 2008, was planned to run for 10 years and regenerate council-owned land.

David Jukes, leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, said: “While it is disappointing that we have agreed to end the partnership, I am delighted with the support we have had from John Laing over the last four years.

"They have been professional throughout and their support has helped the council develop its vision for the borough.”

Jamie Kerr, head of strategic partnerships at John Laing, said: “We are extremely disappointed to have dissolved our partnership with TWBC but with careful consideration to the external factors that have surrounded the scheme, we and TWBC are completely satisfied with our joint decision."

A joint statement from the council and John Laing blamed public sector cuts following the last spending review for forcing the council to reassess its spending priorities.

The statement read: "TWBC was no longer able to consider the regeneration partnership a priority and consequently, it was unable to approve the business case for the sites."

A formal review of the LABV, to assess market conditions and progress to date, had been scheduled for December 2013, the partnership’s fifth anniversary. However, the review was brought forward, resulting in the joint decision to dissolve the partnership.

The amount that the council will pay John Laing for early termination is unknown and members of the public and press were excluded from the council cabinet meeting in which the scrapping of the LABV was approved.

A secret bidder has made an offer on one of the former LABV sites - the former council office site in Cranbrook – and council officers will now negotiate the sale.

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