An extraordinarily full council meeting will take place next week after a High Court ruled Torridge District Council may be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to auctioneers.

The council had been taken to court by Kivells Limited, with a claim that they lost money because of an ineffective animal effluent treatment system at the new Holsworthy AgriBusiness Centre they lease from Torridge.

HHJ Jonathan Russen QC in his High Court judgement published last week ruled in favour of Kivells.

The initial claim against Torridge was for approximately £1.1m. No exact figure on the damages was agreed at the hearing and Judge Russen QC asked the two parties to come to an agreement over the figure. If they fail to do so, another court hearing will take place.

Next Monday night, an extraordinarily full council meeting has been added to the calendar of meetings. An update on the recent legal case and judgement is the only item listed on the agenda and is set to take place in a closed session with the public and press excluded.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Torridge District Council’s senior solicitor, Staci Dorey, said that there were no winners in the case but that following independent legal advice they had little choice but to defend the case.

She added: “It saddens all of us to realise that such a positive asset – the new cattle market – in which over £7m has been invested is now the subject of such negative press. This was a flagship product and bespoke building design which was for the benefit of Kivells and the local community."

Kivells had asked for £1.1m in damages to be awarded. The ruling said that installing a ‘minimal treatment plant’ for the site could cost Kivells £1,532 per week in trade effluent costs. Kivells were told they could recoup the costs from the council, plus money already spent on repairs, which over the lifespan of the 21 year lease means Torridge could be faced with a bill of £457,000.

The dispute between Kivells and Torridge surrounds the agreement that a ‘reed bed system’ was to be installed to take away effluent waste from the animals, but instead, an ‘activated sludge system’ was installed at a cheap cost.

The new £6m Holsworthy Livestock Market in Holsworthy opened for business in September 2014 when the first market saw over 4,000 animals pass under the hammer.

Since trading began, the Holsworthy Livestock Market has seen a £2m turnover increase, along with a “marked” rise in the value and numbers of livestock passing through the pens each week.

The numbers of calves and stirks being sold at the market have increased by 2,000-head per year since 2014, with store cattle up by 3,500-head, fat sheep by 7,000-head, store sheep by 4,500-head and cull ewes by 3,500-head.

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