An independent Lichfield councillor has raised concerns over a possible conflict of interest if a Conservative counterpart votes on any decision to close Friary Grange Leisure Centre.
Lichfield District Council has deferred a final vote amongst its members on the future of the Eastern Avenue site until September.
A public meeting at Curborough Community Centre saw questions asked of the local authority in terms of future leisure provision if Friary Grange were to close.
One of those who spoke at the debate was Cllr Jamie Checkland, a Conservative member for Leomansley ward.
Cllr Checkland, who is also a chair of governors at The Friary School – which intends to become an academy – told residents that his priority was the pupils of the school and insisted the leisure facilities ultimately belonged to the school.
“I became a councillor because I’m disappointed with the sports provision within Lichfield,” he told the public meeting.
“I’ve been fighting on behalf of The Friary School to get a fair crack of the whip in relation to the facilities and the income that comes in to the school and the way in which the pool and other elements are managed.
“My priority is the children of the school. They are there to be educated and the money that comes into The Friary School should be used for their education.
“We gave notice that the school wanted their facilities back. They do belong to the school and they create an income. “
But Cllr Joanne Grange, independent member for Chadsmead ward, said his comments drew into question his ability remain impartial in any vote on the future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre.
“I find it hugely disappointing that lessons do not seem to have been learnt about councillors’ conflicts of interests,” she said.
“For a councillor to stand up at a public meeting and state that his priority is the children of a single school rather than the whole community is astounding.
“I wrote to council leader Cllr Doug Pullen last night about this matter and expressed my concerns about Cllr Checkland being involved with, and ultimately voting on, the proposal to close Friary Grange Leisure Centre given his clear statement about where his priorities lie.
“I have called on Cllr Pullen to ensure that this very clear and publicly stated conflict is appropriately managed.”
Cllr Grange has also asked for clarification on the role of councillors who sit on both the district council and Staffordshire County Council.
“I expressed concerns about the dual-hatted councillors who sit for both councils being involved in the debate and vote given the county council has already taken the action to serve notice.
“Presumably, having already been involved with the Staffordshire County Council decision it would be very difficult for them to then support any action which contradicts the stance their other council has already taken?”