How ironic that in the week when three new Labour councillors take up their seats in Underhill ward, Barnet Football Club chairman Tony Kleanthous announces that he plans to sell the old Underhill stadium.
Lest anyone has forgotten, it was the last Labour Administration, propped up by the LibDems, which secretly approved the sale of Underhill in 2002 for a price of just £10,000. The High Court subsequently ruled that the council had acted unlawfully, and even though the Judge called one of Barnet F.C.’s directors an “unreliable witness”, he was powerless to reverse the decision.
Due to the incompetence of the council’s legal department, errors in the sale contract meant that Mr Kleanthous was free to sell the land after 10 years to whoever he wanted, for whatever price he could get, without have to share one penny with the taxpayers of Barnet.
Mr Kleanthous was forever moaning about the council not supporting the club – something Harrow Council has now discovered for itself. But this was nothing more than bluster. The sale of Underhill will return a very handsome profit on the purchase price.
For years, Don’t Call Me Dave told anyone who would listen (and a good many who would not) that Mr Kleanthous would find an excuse to sell the land just as soon as the contract allowed him to do so, without having to share the proceeds with the hard pressed taxpayers of Barnet, whose land was sold from under their feet without their knowledge or consent. And, lo, it has come to pass.
This sorry saga is a useful reminder as to why Labour should never be trusted with high office again.