Harrogate millionaire in £2m bid to end stand-off

Harrogate businesswoman Jan Fletcher. (S)

Harrogate businesswoman Jan Fletcher. (S)

Millionaire businesswoman Jan Fletcher has moved to try to end her stand-off with Leeds City Council over money it is owed from her failed Leeds Arena legal challenge.

Council bosses recently announced they were bringing a bankruptcy action against Ms Fletcher, who owes the local authority £2m in interim costs following the arena case.

But, during an initial bankruptcy hearing at Harrogate County Court last Wednesday, her legal team said she would be making an offer to the council regarding the costs. The hearing was adjourned, leaving the council waiting to see what form the entrepreneur’s offer would take.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “We are determined to pursue recovery of the very significant costs to us of defending this case and will look at any offer very closely to see if Ms Fletcher can come forward with credible proposals for meeting her debts to council taxpayers in Leeds.”

Ms Fletcher took the council to court following its decision in 2008 to make Clay Pit Lane, in Leeds city centre, the home of the arena. It had been thought that Sweet Street in Holbeck - a site owned by her Harrogate-based Montpellier Estates firm - and land next to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground were the only places in contention to win the scheme.

In the event, the council chose the Clay Pit Lane location and decided to build the venue itself.

Ms Fletcher alleged she had been duped by council bosses into competing in a sham selection process.

Rejecting the £40m damages claim in February last year, Mr Justice Supperstone described her evidence as “unsatisfactory” and said she had a “tendency to exaggerate”.

At a hearing last October, the same judge gave Ms Fletcher four weeks to pay the council’s interim costs but no money was forthcoming.

Council chiefs have previously issued Ms Fletcher’s Montpellier firm with a winding-up petition. Receivers were called in on several pieces of property owned by the company, including the land at Sweet Street as well as the firm’s HQ in Cold Bath Road.

Speaking after her original court defeat last February, Ms Fletcher said she remained “passionate” about Leeds. The one-time businesswoman of the year added: “Anyone who knew what went on in this arena bid will understand why we took this action against Leeds City Council.”


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