Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Kitchen boss Vance Miller in town hall compensation bid

Oldham Town Hall
Oldham Town Hall has been listed as endangered by The Victorian Society

A kitchen firm boss wants Oldham Council to give him the town hall as compensation after a case brought against him was dismissed.

The local authority failed in their bid to prosecute Vance Miller for conspiracy to commit fraud in January.

He has said he will not pursue a cash settlement if the council give him the historic building, which has been left to decay since 1995.

Oldham Council said his proposals were "illegal".

Mr Miller made the demand after a judge at Manchester Crown Court ruled the council should foot the bill, which could reach £4m, for the failed prosecution case.

He believes if he was to sue the local authority, he would be eligible for at least £100,000. Instead of cash, however, he wants to turn the town hall into a youth club.

'Over-zealous, oppressive'

"I want to turn the building into a facility for young people across Oldham," he told BBC News.

"We could have a climbing wall, training facilities and make use of the building."

Vance Miller
Since 2006 trading standards raided Mr Miller's business three times

The council moved out of the town hall, which has been listed as endangered by The Victorian Society, in 1978 and are now based at Oldham Civic Centre.

Last month, Judge Jonathan Foster said the trading standards case was "flawed from the start" and was "over-zealous, oppressive" and many materials used in his kitchens were not analysed properly.

Since 2006, trading standards have raided Mr Miller's business three times, with more than 200 officers seizing goods and thousands of documents.

The council said hundreds of customers had complained to them, claiming their kitchens were sub-standard and cheap materials like MDF wood had been used.

It also failed in prosecuting three others, Nichola Brodie, Sadiya Hussain and Alan Ford, who could claim for compensation along with Mr Miller.

An Oldham Council spokesman added: "We will review his decision in detail and consider our options, including whether to appeal.

"[In regards to the town hall] Assets cannot simply be given away without there being a significant commercial or wellbeing justification."

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