For there to be an agreement, there needs to be an offer and an acceptance and consideration. All those 3 things apply here and hence there is an agreement. However, with regard to the 10 cm (4 inches) it depends whether that breach would make this illegal or not. The reason I mention that is because it’s not possible to legally enforce an illegal contract. It seems highly likely that what they are referring to are guidelines rather than hard and fast law because if it was hard and fast law, they would have to do exactly the same thing to everyone else which it appears they are not. On a different legal point in your favour, they in effect promised that you could do this and you relied on that promise to your detriment and therefore, under the legal doctrine of Promissory Estoppel they cannot go back on that promise.
If you have already been dealing with this in writing, you need to make sure that you follow up any telephone calls in writing from now on.
Firstly, you need to make a formal complaint to the council about the way they are dealing with this on the way you are being singled out whereas others are being left alone.
You need to make the point that they have taken your money and told you that you can go ahead with this and are now saying that you can’t for the sake of a few millimetres.
You need to tell them that if they attempt to put this back as it was, you will make an emergency application to court for an injunction to prevent the work going ahead pending the resolution of your complaint and you will ask the court to costs against the council.
That if this complaint is not resolved in your favour, you will make a further complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. The beauty of the Local Government Ombudsman is that it is risk free because it’s no cost and the local government ombudsman does have the power to make the authority do what it says.
These complaints will have more weight if the letter comes from a solicitor.
If the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman fails, then you are faced with applying to court for judicial review of the decision to take action against you in respect of this work when they had already given consent and take the fee. You can only do that on the grounds of illegality irrationality and procedural impropriety and this certainly fits in with the last two. It doesn’t necessarily change the decision but it makes the council revisit the decision and how it was made and they would have to be very brave to come up with the same conclusion in the light of this evidence.
There is something you can do that is to write immediately to the Chief executive of the local authority by name. This is not a complaint letter, it is an appeal for help against a completely illogical decision which is likely to cost you and the local authority a lot of money for no reason. These appealing letters to the person at the top of the tree can be very successful.
Can I clarify anything for you?
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