A member of a council committee says she “cannot see any reason” why an update on an investigation into a controversial deal to sell off public land in Lichfield for housing is being held in private.

Lichfield District Council’s member standards and audit committee will meet on Thursday (25th March).

The land off Leyfields earmarked for new housing
The land off Leyfields earmarked for new housing

The group will hear an update on an investigation being carried out into how the agreement to sell the land at Leyfields and Netherstowe was made without the knowledge of the council leader and cabinet members.

But the public and media will be barred from the section of the meeting where the report is to be heard.

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).”

Cllr Joanne Grange
Cllr Joanne Grange

But Cllr Joanne Grange, independent member for Chadsmead ward, said she had already raised issues about the decision to hold the section of the meeting behind closed doors.

“I’m on the committee mentioned and have also raised it with the council direct – I can’t see any reason for the meeting to be behind closed doors.

“The financial facts are known and the public interest outweighs the confidentiality argument.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

“Impossible position”

The investigation was launched by chief executive Diane Tilley after Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the council, said he had been left in an “impossible position” after it emerged the agreement for the sale to a housing provider had been made.

Campaigners who saw a petition to block planning permission for the homes on the two plots of open space gain more than 1,000 signatures are still hopeful of preventing the schemes from going ahead.

But a proposed planning committee debate on the proposals was shelved at the last minute.

No reason has yet been given for the delay in making a final decision – and no details have emerged about when the petition will be heard as part of the planning process.

Lichfield District Council has said only that “ongoing discussions” were taking place.

8 replies on “Committee member says she “cannot see any reason” why land sale investigation is being discussed behind closed doors”

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  1. This, folks, is a prime example is why Council Committees should be open to the Public. (And it shows the danger of scrapping Scrutiny Committees and replacing them with secretive ‘Task Groups’!)

  2. There are some extremely questionable practices in LDC. Planning permission granted with impunity it seems, despite the overwhelming majority of residents opposing the amount of overdevelopment taking place. So – what does this council do to restore public trust? It has meetings in private – away from those annoying members of the public. It’s disgraceful.

  3. Its the Conservative definition of “open and transparent engagement with the public”, obviously.

    Doug Pullen wants it. But this is the version of it the crusty old guard Tories he leads find acceptable. When you consider Cllr Eadie represents that old guard, you have your answer.

    Nice try Mr Pullen. But you cannot escape the right wing reactionary faction in your party for long.

  4. Liverpool has had parliamentary commissioners imposed to run the council because of malpractice on building contracts. Any chance we could have some here? It seems that when put to scrutiny things are not always what they should be behind closed doors.

  5. @Edward, I agree.

    There is often very muted response to council consultations for two reasons.
    – they are not very well publicised
    – people feel, their responses are ignored

    For a lot of residents in Burntwood and Lichfield. The first they know about a new housing development. Is when the diggers and bulldozers turn up. It is too late then. It is not apathy. They just do not know.

    Before I discovered LL. I had very little idea what was happening where I lived. After seeing some of the decisions. There are times, I wish I was still oblivious to what has actually happened. It pains me, to see what is happening to Lichfield and Burntwood.

  6. @Steve, “Before I discovered LL. I had very little idea what was happening where I lived”. Neither did I. Why I have started a subscription. However I am happy that I now have knowledge of what is really happening. At least I have the opportunity to air my views. Keep on keeping on LL.

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