Contract dispute sees £28k payout by Houghton Regis Town Council

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Houghton Regis Town Council has paid out over £28,000 in an out-of-court settlement with a company whose contract was prematurely scrapped in 2015.

What About Youth Ltd was contracted to provide youth services in Houghton Regis but “political” tensions between its staff and the town council led to the contract being terminated in March 2015.

The company decided to sue the council and a hearing was scheduled at Luton County Court on August 29 – only for the town council to settle on the morning the hearing was due to be heard.

What About Youth founder Jan Cooper said: “I was very heavy hearted to be forced to sue the town council.

“As a civil servant I have a duty to uphold the organisations that represent the electorate and not damage the confidence that the residents have in their representatives.

“Sadly, I cannot uphold Houghton Regis Town Council when they make poor decisions.”

What About Youth Ltd began working with the town council in 2011 and organised several initiatives, including a campaign group to save the leisure centre.

Later on, the group helped form the Houghton Regis Helpers, as well as The Heritage Society, with members of the public.

However in 2015, the town council withdrew its support for the group, following an apparent dispute between group members and councillors.

An accusation against Jan Cooper of “political bias” was made and the contract with What About Youth Ltd was terminated in March 2015.

A Houghton Regis Town Council spokesman said: “Working with What About Youth Ltd for a number of years, the council were able to deliver a number of community based projects.

“However it was with sadness that the council felt forced to terminate the contract early.

“The settlement offered to What About Youth Ltd was made without prejudice and without admitting liability, and was ultimately done to avoid the incurrence of even greater expense.”