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SALFORD DISTRICT VALUER EXPOSED
 

Star date: 13th August 2009

SALFORD UNDERVALUES CPO HOUSE BY 40% - OFFICIAL!

Jimmy Griffiths, the first person in the country to be forcibly evicted from his home as a result of the Government's ill fated Pathfinder programme, has won his long running battle with Salford Council over compensation for the now demolished house.

A Lands Tribunal has found that the Council's `independent' District Valuer had undervalued the compulsorily purchased (CPO) property in Higher Broughton by 40%. The landmark case also showed that house prices on which the original compensation figure was based were "selective to a considerable degree" and that other valuations for CPOs in the area were based on an "arbitrary reduction"…

Residents in the `bottom streets' of Higher Broughton who originally accepted Salford Council offers as low as £21,000 for their houses pre-2005 will now find that the properties were actually worth well over double that figure…

(click here for the full story)


Higher Broughton Salford Higher Broughton Salford Higher Broughton Salford
click image to enlarge

What everyone in the city has known for years is now official – property in Salford acquired by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) has been undervalued by both Salford Council and the District Valuer.

It was 5th September 2005 when the Sheriff's Office rode into Higher Broughton to forcibly evict Jimmy Griffiths from his home in Hampshire Street.

Jimmy had originally been offered £21,000 for the three bedroom terrace by Salford Council. He refused to accept it, and the District Valuer, Russell Fine, was brought in to give an independent valuation which he decided would be £36,500. Jimmy still considered this to be way too low, when similar houses were selling nearby for over £75,000.

As he wrote in Salford Star issue 4"The most outrageous fact to emerge from all this is the Council's role in me being evicted from a home I own, reducing my social status from being on the first rung of the property ladder to being that of voyeur.  I can look at the properties not affected by demolitions but cannot afford to buy one with the derisory compensation being offered."

The new `affordable homes' that were built to replace the demolished streets started at £115,000 rising to £138,000

Jimmy, backed by his brother Guy, took the case to a Lands Tribunal and this week a ruling was finally received, which gave a valuation of £52,000 or a 42% increase on the District Valuer's valuation, and a whopping 247% increase on the Council's original offer.

While the Griffiths brothers still believe the figure is too low, the case has shone a massive light on how valuations are created for homes that the Council wants to demolish.

The District Valuer, Russell Fine, "a senior surveyor acting as a consultant to the council", gave "expert valuation evidence" in arriving at his figure of £36,500 for the Hampshire Street house. This was based on property prices in three areas –  firstly, the Cliff (on the far side of Bury New Road and well away from Hampshire Street), secondly, settlements that the Council had already made with residents in the immediate area (Wiltshire Street) and, thirdly, prices in the Mandley Park area (including Gainsborough St).

The Tribunal ruled out the Valuer's price comparisons to the Cliff  because the area was further away and "different in a number of ways".  Also the Tribunal found that in arriving at average prices in the area the Valuer had included transactions "which are clearly artificially low".

The Tribunal chair, Mr Francis, stated that "I do not agree with Mr Fine that it produces the best comparables" and added that "I have some reservations regarding Mr Fine's schedule of comparables from this area."

He concluded: "I am of the view that if a comprehensive schedule had been produced for the Cliff area, the resulting averages might have been higher.  Without that support, it means the strength of Mr Fine's conclusions must be in question."

Yet these dodgy Cliff valuations were the basis of the offer, not only to Jimmy Griffiths, but also to other residents in the `bottom streets' of Higher Broughton who accepted low offers for their houses.

Consequently, Mr Francis ruled out any evidence from Mr Fine's second source… "I am not satisfied that the settlements that Mr Fine referred to in Wiltshire Street, based as they were upon a limited number of Cliff area comparables, and with an arbitrary reduction, provide grounds for agreeing with the appraisal."

Which left just the Mandley Park area valuations as being valid. However, Mr Fine had dismissed the high prices houses were fetching here because there had been a `knock-on effect' caused by Salford Council's wonderful regeneration of the area - like, in his dreams…

Responding to this, Mr Francis said that "I…do not think that the perceived benefits of the regeneration, especially bearing in mind Mr Griffiths' comments about its lack of success, would have any impact, if any, upon values."

Mr Francis also commented on the low average prices for the Mandley Park area that the District Valuer had quoted… "It is clear that Mr Fine has been selective to a considerable degree" adding that "it is abundantly clear that there were indeed many more sales…than Mr Fine's schedule would suggest" and "that by valuation date many more properties were selling in the range £60,000 to £70,000 than were at much lower prices".

He concluded that the average price for the Mandley Park area in 2005 was £65,000 but that Hampshire Street was 20% less attractive, giving a final figure of £52,000 compensation for Jimmy Griffiths' battleground house in Hampshire Street.

What the case highlights is how the District Valuer seems to always be looking for the lowest possible price to offer residents whose homes are being taken off them, forcibly in this instance.

The District Valuer is independent of course, but is paid by the Council as a consultant and is used by the Council to give "expert valuation evidence". A lot of that evidence, in this landmark Lands Tribunal case between Griffiths and Salford City Council at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, was dismissed as "selective to a considerable degree"…

Councillor Peter Connor, Salford City Council's lead member for housing said yesterday: "The value of Mr Griffiths' property in Higher Broughton was assessed by an independent District Valuer whose decision is binding on the council. The District Valuer is brought in to offer professional and impartial property advice. He is not a city council employee and this property valuation has not been carried out by the authority."

Commenting on the Lands Tribunal ruling, Jimmy Griffiths' brother, Guy said "This a good result for Salford Council because, although this valuation has been shown to be seriously flawed, it's still not actually cost them a lot of money. But imagine if the other 400 people in the area would have fought their corner - it would have cost an extra £6m and I don't think it would have been viable for developers to come in."

This is by no means the end of the story – next up is the valuation for Guy Griffiths' house in the `top streets' demolition area, which is also being disputed…

Read the full Lands Tribunal ruling here

See how Salford Council is arguing it would cost up to £130,000 to refurbish a terrace house in Higher Broughton!

See the six part story in Issue 4 of the Salford Star for all the Higher Broughton background info

G.Griffiths wrote
at 19:01:49 on 10 January 2012
As an update on this. After the tribunal result, my brother submitted bills for his "disturbance", (this is for all costs involved,including removals, solicitor and survyor costs etc). Russel Fine had these papers for over a year before he passed them back to the council. The council legal department are now refusing to pay the figure becuase they say that there is no evidence to support parts of the claim. This is despite the fact that a letter of acknowledgement came out over 18 months ago. There is a 6 year time limit to get a case to the land tribunal. My brother got his case there before that limit was up. He also submitted the bills well before the 6 year period was up. The council legal department are now trying it on by saying that 6 years have passed and more or less "sod you!".In theory, they can delay and payment for that time and then pay what they want. It is bad enough losing your home and being ripped off for it. This makes it even worse. Local councillors (Labour as well as opposition) should question this practise and bring it to the attention of Mp,s.
 
Anti-politician wrote
at 17:03:55 on 28 December 2011
What a disgusting , immoral , ignorant , arrogant way to treat people , just so this greedy , grubby council gets its own way . Well done to Guy Griffiths and the others for challenging the antics of the Madhouse . I sincerely hope you got the full value for your properties , despite the sickening treatment meted out by the inept council and their co-conspirators . Property cannot be undervalued on this scale without deliberate policy . I am angered beyond words at the deliberate and immoral practices at the Madhouse. The sooner we consign these traitors to the gutter , the better .
 
Fadge - No Hope in this dead city wrote
at 10:43:33 on 23 October 2011
DEAD SALFORD SHOULD BE RE-NAMED SHYSTER CITY , IN HONOUR OF THOSE PATHETIC WRETCHES WHO WE ALLOW TO MAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS AND CHEAT , SWINDLE , AND DESTROY THE LIVES OF SALFORD PEOPLE...
 
Guy Griffiths wrote
at 17:27:38 on 01 November 2010
The best thing to do Ray is to email Councillor Merry and ask him about it. Maybe if a few of the people from your old street got together and asked him it might make him think. You will probably be told that your surveyor negotiated a settlement BUT the tribunal rulings mean that you were actually underpaid, WHICH, the council say that the cannot legally do. Good luck.
 
Ripped off Ray wrote
at 08:24:52 on 31 October 2010
I was one of the people who only got £40,000 for their house. What is the situation on this? Do the council now have to pay the "Full" amount. If so then I think that they owe myself and lots of others about £50,000 each. Anyone from the council to comment?
 
Guy Griffiths wrote
at 13:04:01 on 29 October 2010
I found an old newsletter the other day. It said that the council can not buy or sell a property for less than the market value. At a tribunal I went to in March, it was decided that properties in the "top streets" area were of the same value as those to the East of Leicester Road? In 2006/2007 those properties (to the East) rose to £1,200 per sq metre, which if applied to "top streets" would equal about £96,000. These people got settlements of around £40,000 to £50,000. Does this mean that the council underpaid them and (as they cannot legally pay less than market value) they will now pay those people the full amount. Over to you Councillors Merry and Connor. I bet you will not answer this. Also, in light of the ruling on Jimmy,s house, will any of the people in "bottom streets" get the full market value from 2005?
 
Marcin wrote
at 14:27:27 on 06 May 2010
There is similiar situation in Stoke-On-Trent, Hanley where Valuation Officer Andrew Wilkinson is undervaluating properties by about 20%! Is there anybody who can kick out so-called 'independent' Valuation Officers?
 
guy griffiths wrote
at 16:25:58 on 04 September 2009
BAD BLOOD AND DIRTY TACTICS? I hace had the pleasure of speaking to the district valuer about my current property today. He is now looking at a new valuation---despite the fact that he has had four weeks since the land tribunal report over my brothers case,he said it will take him a little while to review the valuation! Could this have something to do with the fact that the council want me out by the end of October and they want to put the pressure on? He seems to be saying that the housing market is in a poor state now even though relative to the earlier valuations in the bottom streets the market has moved on a lot. If you have 53 houses selling in the last 3 1/2 years at over £100,000 (usually between £115,000 and £125,000) and 7 selling below £100,000 then what is that telling you about house prices? If something sells for a high price its down as a "company transaction" but if something sells for a low price "its the market" and not anything to do with a landlord selling cheap to get a tax loss or unloading because of the impending landlord licensing. The district valuer now wants to correspond only in writing! This may be to slow things down. Maybe Salford will want to come up with their own valuation as they seem to be distancing themselves from the district valuer and the tribunal result. My brother did not get a fair price for his house. It would not have bought him another house in the area. BUT he got £15,500 more than the district valuer offered in his "expert opinion" and £31,000 more than Salford,s lat offer, which they refused to increase in the 4 years before employing the district valuer. ON PAPER THE RESULT IS DOWN AS A WIN and that is what Salford and the district valuer dont like. It also shows up every other surveyor who negotiated settlements for the other 400 people in the area. MAKE OF THIS WHAT YOU WILL.
 
Barbara McLeod wrote
at 10:02:43 on 01 September 2009
I am one of the remaining owner occupiers in Top Strets affected by the CPO, and I am upset and disgusted with how we have been treated by the Council over the value of our homes and the length of time things have taken. Right now we are in a worse position than first time buyers, struggling to negociate with Building Socities for a new mortgage. On the basis of the compensation packages being offered they want to restict us to staying within Salford, taking away any freedom of choice we would have had, had we been making a private sale. I now reside between empty houses, with houses being demolished in accompanying streets. The area looks like a war torn area and is very scary and depressing to return to after a hard days work! Where is the justice, the fairness!!
 
Julie Templeton wrote
at 20:08:20 on 24 August 2009
This should spur on everyone who is facing Compulsory Purchase of their property to keep on fighting. It is obvious to everyone involved in Regeneration areas that there is no morality, or even a semblance of fairness when dealing with councils and regeneration agencies. The louder we shout, the harder it will become for them to keep on getting away with it.
 
nugent wrote
at 21:46:28 on 20 August 2009
Be interesting to hear what all the surveyors who "negotiated" the settlements for everyone else in the C.P.O area have to say about this.
 
maureen aylward wrote
at 13:41:24 on 13 August 2009
I'm so glad that Mr Griffiths has won his battle. We should all have his tenacity and determinatiion. I live in East Leeds, East End Park. We are on the rim of the city centre. We too are marked for REGENERATION via the EASEL scheme but DEGENERATION is the first step. Investment in the area is nil, The council does not monitor their Accredited Landlords', vulnerable groups are concentrated in the area, we are now a ghetto, we meet the deprivation statistics and the market prices, making it 'viable for the developers to come in'.
 
piv wrote
at 13:41:20 on 13 August 2009
I do not Know whether to laugh or cry On the one hand the griffiths brothers and their supporters have been vindicated on the other all those other house-holders in Broughton and for that matter Langworthy, who allowed themselves to be bullied by the council and Pathfider have collectively been cheasted out of millions. A pyrrhic victory has been achieved upon the bonfire of Salford's last working class homes. The only real victors in this are the developers who got the land cheap and billions in public money to do what they should be doing themselves investing their own money to build, not other peoples. Furthermore it shows the sheer incompetence of John Merry,Salford Housing and the 5th rate Legal department who should do the decent thing and resign en-masse. You are not fit for any purpose on God's earth.
 
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