Lichfield District Council has moved to clarify why discussions around Friarsgate have been held behind closed doors.
A meeting of the council this evening (June 12) had been shrouded in secrecy as the local authority weighs up plans to spend £49million to ensure the city centre redevelopment scheme goes ahead.
Initial versions of the agenda for the meeting published on the council’s website had listed items to be discussed with the media and public excluded, with only the word ‘Friarsgate’ appearing.
But a revised version of the document has now sought to explain why the discussion was held in private, citing financially sensitive details and legal advice.
“The report contains significant financial information relating to the council’s own interests, the interests of the developer, and others,” the revised agenda says. “In consequence, this report is to be considered in private as permitted by paragraph 3, Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that the report contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the council).
“The report also contains advice from the council’s legal advisors. In consequence, this report is to be considered in private as permitted by paragraph 5, Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that the report contains information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.”
The agenda also seeks to offer some insight into what was to be discussed.
“Cabinet is to agree proposed actions to be recommended to full council for approval should key milestones highlighted in the development agreement not be achieved by the due date,” the statement explained.
“Cabinet will consider the options bearing in mind the development agreement, risks, funding opportunities, financial implications and legal opinion. It will also consider the implications of any decision on the project and on the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.
“Full council will consider the Cabinet’s recommendations June 26.”