Council solicitor reveals his bags are packed, he’s ready to go and the taxi’s waitin’, he’s blowin’ his horn

Ian Hunt

Ian Hunt - Credit: Archant

THE solicitor who bore the brunt of ‘supermarketgate’ and warned of the onslaught of likely legal challenges, is to leave Fenland District Council.

Ian Hunt, the council’s chief solicitor and formerly a senior solicitor at the borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, has accepted a new role at Braintree, Essex.

It is understood he is also about to be married.

Mr Hunt, who joined Fenland Council six years ago as legal services manager before being promoted two years later to senior solicitor, is expected to move jobs in the autumn.

Meanwhile the council prepares for resolution of ‘supermarketgate’ on several fronts, not least a public inquiry in November by Harrier Developments Ltd of Manea which was refused permission for a Tesco store at Eastrea Road, Whittlesey.

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The Government’s Planning Inspectorate is processing appeal paperwork and is now accepting evidence in advance of the hearing.

March businessman Bruce Smith, whose application for a Sainsbury store and an industrial park on neighbouring sites was approved is awaiting final paperwork confirming the planning committee’s decision.

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Once the agreement is finalised – with a country park and other commitments forming part of legal obligations through a section 106 attachment- Harrier will then have a window of opportunity to apply for a judicial review of the decision.

Mr Hunt had previously warned the council of difficulties associated with the applications.

In a 10 page document sent to all Fenland councillors he said: “Challenges, even if they fail, lead to delay uncertainty and cost and bring the planning system into disrepute.”

And he said costs could be “significant” given that both Sainsbury’s and Tesco are using London solicitors “and will no doubt be instructing experienced senior/leading counsel.”

A Fenland Council spokesman said they never commented on individuals and declined to do so about Mr Hunt’s departure.

Council leader Alan Melton confirmed he had been told by chief executive Paul Medd of Mr Hunt’s resignation.

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