Derry City Council to meet charities over £10,000 ground rent debt

The latest BBC report promises to keep us up to date with any developments on the story of Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky-Browne-Lecky’s legacy to two charities – the Actors’ Charitable Trust and the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.

After his death in 1961 the amateur actor’s dying wish was that the charities would benefit from revenues from his estate – including the ground rents from properties he owned in Londonderry.  There’s an account of his funeral here, an account of the auction of his belongings, and a gallery of images and newspaper cuttings.

Among the ground rents involved is for the City Swimming Baths on William Street, run by Derry City Council.

And the Council haven’t been paying the required £600 per year for some time… and it’s now around £10,000 in arrears.

The BBC are now reporting that the charities involved are to contact Derry City Council after the council issued a statement saying that they “do not have any outstanding demands for ground rent on the property and would encourage the charities to get in contact with them directly.”  The same report notes that the council issued a statement to the BBC last week saying that their “financial records did not go back that far”, but that they would be prepared to meet representatives of the charities.

Here’s the key section from the latest BBC report by Julie McCullough

The BBC has the documents to show that the council was liable to pay these ground rents as far back as 1962.

We also have the documents to show that they had been paying it sporadically as late as the early 1990s – but then the council sent a letter asking for proof that they owed the money.

They wanted a copy of the deed – but solicitor Hugh Logan – who has been looking after the estate for around 30 years – said that wasn’t something they were able to produce.

“The actual document couldn’t be turned up but the fact that the ground landlord, and we are acting on behalf of the ground landlord, couldn’t produce what is called the counterpart deed – the copy deed – the original deed would be in the hands of the person who holds the ground, ie. Derry City Council.”

And the BBC has seen a copy of that deed belonging to Derry City Council – and it clearly says on it that the ground rent is to be paid forever. [added emphasis]

So we asked the council why they had stopped paying the ground rent and if they had any intention of paying the two charities the money they owed.