The public will be barred from part of a Lichfield District Council meeting where an update on an investigation into a controversial land deal will be heard.

The land at Netherstowe earmarked for housing

The local authority has been probing how it came to agree to sell land at Leyfields and Netherstowe to a housing association without the knowledge of the local authority’s leaders.

Cabinet members said they had little option but to allow the sale to go ahead after it emerged that a deal has already been signed off by officers before relevant consultation had taken place.

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said at the time:

“I am opposed to the disposal – however, a contract was signed back in July 2020 with Bromford to dispose of this land without my knowledge and without the benefit of a consultation having taken place.

“That means if we vote against the disposal we will immediately breach the contract with Bromford and open ourselves up to what could be an expensive legal challenge.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

Chief executive Diane Tilley confirmed an external investigation would take place in order to find out how the deal had been agreed – although she said those involved were no longer at the local authority.

“Exclusion of public and press”

The private section of the agenda

But an agenda for the audit and standards committee meeting next week has revealed that residents and the media will be unable to watch the portion of the session where the investigation is discussed.

The local authority says that the item would involve the “likely disclosure of exempt information” as outlined in the Local Government Act 1972.

An explanation of the decision states it is due to:

“Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).”

The update will be heard privately at the meeting on Thursday (25th March).

The decision to discuss it behind closed doors is the latest mystery surrounding the future of the land at Netherstowe and Leyfields.

Despite the deal being agreed to sell the plots of open space, a decision on whether to allow planning permission – which drew a petition of more than 1,000 residents objecting to the proposals – was dropped from the agenda of a planning committee meeting at the last minute.

The item has yet to reappear, with Lichfield District Council only confirming that “ongoing discussions” were taking place.

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14 Comments

  1. In the interest of “transparency” one of Cllr. Pullen’s favourite plaudits, I trust that following this meeting ‘behind closed doors’ he will be open and honest to the electorate when the truth of this matter is revealed. I won’t hold my breath.

  2. Cllr. Pullen, you came as the great hope after a long period of turmoil. You came with promises. Transparency does not need defining. Shake the clay off your feet and be true to the convictions you freely gave. Or go away.

  3. @AnnS, your comment reminds me of “I can’t breathe”. Breath is the energy of life. It is the Spirit that thing that keeps us alive. As opposed to the living or walking dead. Ann’S I have to state here that I don’t know you any which way whatever just in case etc etc. But.. It is a conundrum how this was allowed to happen? Any opinions as to how? Anyone?

  4. For goodness sake the councils are being wound down. Have you not noticed. All decisions made at the top. All being done behind the scenes. Just like this planning decision at local level. Us locals, the ones paying the taxes. don’t matter. Did you read about “Dominic Cummings and the £4 million bailout to rescue a failing Internet firm. We are the ones paying for it, me out of my meagre pension. All decisions made at the top. Us ordinary folk, locals, the ones paying the taxes we don’t matter anymore. When are we going to stand up for our rights? You tell me.

  5. Councillor Pullen, this is an ideal time and opportunity to prove to all of interested parties that you really meant what you said and be open and transparent, otherwise it shows once again that the Council as a whole have something to hide or bury
    So stand up and let us all know what is going on.
    Please remember all of you work for us!!!!! that means all staff and Councillors

  6. Perhaps LDC are hoping that if they draw this whole business out long enough, and fudge it behind closed doors, we will all forget about it. Democracy? Don’t make me laugh.

  7. Wonder who decided to hold this part of meeting in private?. – maybe “no longer in employment” soon as per the originators of this cover up, which went wrong. Some on LDC have elections within weeks. Surely this unfortunate saga cannot be dragged on until after early May? Residents have a right to know what is or is not happening.

  8. The council is always using the excuse that they are obliged by the government to keep building houses, even if there is overwhelming local objection. That builders will take them to court and have any negative decisions overturned. This with the attendant costs involved.
    There are ways of countering this with developers. Firstly you define the roads as private under the Highways Act 1980 (Sections 203 to 237 part X1) This would mean any costs would fall on householders for repair and maintenance. Likewise for street lighting and refuse collection. Such sites have massive maintenance rates and are very difficult to sell. In fact it is recommended that you avoid them like the plague! Just maybe this will temper the avarice of builders looking to make quick profits by imposeing weak and undemocratic legislation on already saturated communities.

  9. Will it mean more felling of mature trees in the name of progress ? No doubt they will be replaced by saplings ? SAD for the future of our green spaces ? Lichfield will be covered in concrete soon just like the old Bison yard ?

  10. Perhaps I am stating the obvious here, but surely, if LDC refuses planning permission then the boot will be on the other foot as, I’m sure, Bromford will lose interest in the non site.

  11. @John Allen you are so right. That decision obviously had nothing to do with democracy. And neither do decisions made in council meetings behind closed zoom meetings. I find this odd too, “The local authority says that the item would involve the “likely disclosure of exempt information” as outlined in the Local Government Act 1972.”. Perhaps we should know what kind of exempt information that could that be. Because I find that sentence very interesting.

  12. I have just driven past the new housing development at Streethay and admired their beautiful green open spaces. Meanwhile, those of us living in the Netherstowe/Curborough areas of the city are about to loose 3 of our beautiful green open spaces. 2 for housing (take a look at how many houses are planned for the city already!) and 1 for a new leisure facility. We have lived in this area and paid council tax,poll tax and rates to Lichfield CC for more that 40 years but it seems that we don’t matter.

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