ROCHESTER CITY Council has won a High Court battle to recover £2M given to Kent County Council for construction of the Medway Tunnel.
Rochester gave KCC the money as a contribution towards the cost of building the £80M tunnel. A High Court judge ruled this week that the county had acted illegally and must return the money.
Although funding for the tunnel came chiefly from government, Rochester originally agreed to put in £2M of its own money. But the tunnel was eventually built entirely with government cash.
City council chiefs were forced into court when KCC refused to hand back the money, insisting that it was under no obligation to do so.
Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan said in his opening remarks on Monday: 'The county council has refused to return the money. I have no hesitation is saying I find that a surprising decision for one local authority to adopt when receiving money from another local authority in the circumstances described'.
John Shaw, the Labour leader at Rochester City Council, welcomed the decision. 'We are delighted with the judgement from the High Court which entirely vindicates our stand on this,' he said. 'If the county council had accepted our case from the beginning, a lot of money could have been saved.'
In a statement, KCC said: 'The county council decided in 1994 the matter should be tested in the High Court. This has been done and after four years, we fully accept the ruling. The county council will now examine the judgement in detail before deciding what further action to take'.
A decision on costs is expected today.