Staff involved in signing a contract to sell land before necessary consultation was carried out no longer work for Lichfield District Council, the local authority’s chief executive has said.
The comments came at a meeting of the cabinet to discuss the proposed disposal of land at Leyfields and Netherstowe.
The sale was approved at the meeting – but leader Cllr Doug Pullen said they had been placed in an “impossible position” due to the agreement being signed in July 2020 without the knowledge of the cabinet.
Cllr Andy Smith, cabinet member for innovation, commercialisation and corporate service, said answers were needed on how the situation had been allowed to happen.
He told the meeting:
“Obviously something in our people or process failed whereby we signed our legal agreement prior to going out to public consultation.
“I’d like to hear what went wrong there and I’d like reassurance that going forward we will avoid that in the future.”Cllr Andy Smith, Lichfield District Council
Chief executive Diane Tilley said an officer who was no longer at the council had acted on “a previous and valid cabinet decision”.
“In respect of what happened, the agreement that was reached in 2018 proposed that consultation would be part of the planning process.
“It was only on the signature of the agreement – which with the benefit of hindsight that officer should have perhaps discussed with the relevant elected members, but was acting on a previous and valid cabinet decision – that it was highlighted that the required actions had not taken place.
“None of the officers involved in this, from legal advisors through to those signing the contract, are working with the council any longer.
“I would emphasise to all members and the public that we are conscious of this situation and we know the sensitivities that have been awaken through it.”Diane Tilley, Lichfield District Council