THE charity which runs Furlong Close, Hft, has been ordered to pay the legal costs of its court battle over the closure of the facility.

In January this year, Furlong Close resident Katie Gange took the charity to the High Court claiming the planned closure of the site without proper consultation was a breach of the residents’ human rights.

On Friday (September 3) Hft was ordered to pay the residents’ cost for the legal battle.

The Friends and Families of Furlong Close said: “Hft initially defended the proceedings, but then, in July 2021, it capitulated and agreed to withdraw its decision and continue to provide care and support at Furlong Close for as long as Wiltshire Council commissioned it to do so.

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"Last Friday, Hft paid the price for its initial intransigence and ultimate capitulation, when the High Court ordered it to pay the resident’s costs of the proceedings.

“As his Honour Judge Lambert ruled, the resident was completely successful in the proceedings and Hft was completely unsuccessful and, in those circumstances, it was only fair that Hft paid all the costs of the proceedings.”

In his decision, just Lambert said: “The practical reality of the matter is that the claimant sought to resolve the matter via the pre-action protocol for judicial review.

“The defendant refused to give the assurances the claimant was seeking.

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“The change of position point raised by the defendant was undermined by its own skeleton argument for the permission hearing.

“The contingent decision point the defendant seeks to rely upon is inconsistent with its own correspondence particularly the letters of December 1, 2020, December 15, 2020 and December 21, 2020.

“There is nothing to detract from the claimants' practical success.”

Emma Bagley, Hft’s divisional director for the South West said: “Earlier this year the claimant decided to withdraw her judicial review claim and forego the need for a final hearing.

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“Hft is currently considering the order made by the Court regarding the award of costs in the legal proceedings.

“Since May 2021 we have only been providing the services at this location on behalf of Wiltshire Council therefore any discussions about the future of Furlong Close must be taken forward with Wiltshire Council not Hft.

“However, we will continue to meet with residents and families on a one to one basis, as per our normal processes, to discuss any questions relating to their or their relative’s care and support needs.

“In the meantime, on behalf of Wiltshire Council, Hft continues to provide care and support to those people living at Furlong Close while Wiltshire Council decides their next steps.”

Recently, Wiltshire Council's search for a new care provider for Furlong Close was unsuccessful.

The local authority said: “The site is owned by Hft and we are speaking to them following this decision and we are considering all viable options.”

Other councils commission care and Wiltshire Council is only responsible for 19 residents at Furlong Close. 

Thirteen other residents are funded by 12 different local authorities.