Leader defiant over Leeds arena 'challenge'

Defiant council leader Andrew Carter has hit back at news of a developer's legal challenge over plans for a new 12,500-capacity arena for Leeds.

Businesswoman Jan Fletcher has mounted a High Court bid after Leeds City Council's shock decision to develop the arena on a site not previously on the shortlist.

Now, following the damages claim by Mrs Fletcher, Coun Carter has spoken out and said: "We are very disappointed that Montpellier have taken this course of action. Clearly it is in direct contrast to the attitude of the other bidder who was similarly unsuccessful.

"We shall be robustly defending the action as we believe that everything that has been done in connection with this has been done in an absolutely straightforward manner."

Mrs Fletcher's company Montpellier Estates were thought to be in the running for the stadium project with plans to built the arena in Sweet Street, Holbeck. Their only rival was thought to be developer GMI, who has put forward plans for an arena on land at Elland Road.

But at a meeting in November, the council opted to buy land from Leeds Metropolitan University on Claypit Lane for 6m as a site for the arena.

The site was not thought to have been considered.

Montpellier's damages claim says "...that the council breached its statutory duties in relation to the public procurement exercise which the council decided to terminate in November, on value for money grounds".

Coun Carter vowed that the legal action would not distract the council from building the stadium.

He said: "I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that we are determined to press ahead with the arena.

"We will not let this distraction divert us from our clear policy of providing an arena for the benefit of the people of Leeds."

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