Permission for the Judicial review is refused. The Council asks 20 other groups to support its lottery bid. We apply to register most of the pathways through the gardens as the rights of way we believe them to be. The Council refuses to disclose the terms of the land disposal to Newfield Jones, and Newfield submit a revised version of their planning application.
The Treasury Solicitor working for the Attorney General determines the gardens were a charitable gift, but is persuaded by the Council's argument that selling the land would benefit the charity and is therefore permissible. SOAG go on to speak at the planning meeting and ask for the planning application to be deferred. The developer announces a new plan to be deposited the following day that will move the building away from the disputed footpath, but it denies the existence of the right of way when previous applications have acknowledged it. The Council do not defer, but approve the application. We ask the Charity Commission to remind Fylde Council of the need to register the gardens. They do so.
SOAG writes to several community groups asking them not to support a lottery bid that involves the sale of any of the gardens. We meet with the Council to hear the Council's latest (Mk3 version) masterplan for the Gardens and are not encouraged by the tone. However we agree to assess the plan without prejudice with regard to the land disposal.
SOAG has a lively AGM. One of the groups asked to support the lottery bid tells SOAG they will not do so. They do not support the sale of the land, nor do they think the latest version of the scheme is right for St Annes. SOAG forms a technical committee to look into the plan for the latest lottery bid in detail. It meets twice and is denied access to costing information, but eventually it recommends to SOAG's executive Committee that this version of the bid should not be supported. A second group decides not to support the bid. SOAG's Executive Committee supports the technical group recommendation and writes to say it is unable to support this version of the bid.
SOAG challenges the denial of the right of way at the planning meeting. We write to Government office North West, asking then to take the decision out of Fylde's hands. They decline to do so. The planning committee approve the second Newfield planning application without seeing plans that were deposited the day before the meeting and before the date for objections to be received. They get around this by delegating the actual decision to an officer, to be made on the day after the objection period expires.
Newfield receive their certificate of immunity from the Government. The battle is more or less over. There is now nothing to stop a determined council from selling part of the gardens and nothing to stop Newfield buying and bulldozing the site.
Two more groups tell SOAG they do not support the lottery bid the Council has prepared. We write to the Charity Commissioners asking then about the registration of the gardens. We reconsult our barrister on a matter connected with the land disposal.
The Council announce they are starting the restoration (for which read) dismantling of the Ashton Institute and work starts on site. We claim the right of way has been blocked. The Chairman contacts the Council's auditors regarding the way the land has been sold and that other funding sources have not been considered.
The land is sold to Newfield Jones and the Institute is demolished.
A determined council, with £2 in its general reserves - which could easily have used some of that as its £500,000 match funding for a lottery bid - refused to do so. They sold part of the gardens and demolished what was certainly one of the
oldest (and possibly the earliest) public building in St Annes.
Against a background of intransigence and perverse decision-making that wilfully defied logic, the campaign to save the integrity of the gardens and preserve the Institute, was lost.