Councillors have been told “secretiveness breeds rumour and suspicion” as they prepare to discuss a controversial land deal behind closed doors.

The audit and member standards committee at Lichfield District Council will hear an update into the investigation into the sale of land at Leyfields and Netherstowe for housing this evening (25th March).

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

The agreement to dispose of the sites to a housing association was reached without the knowledge of the local authority’s leader or cabinet, leading to an investigation being launched.

But the public and media will both be barred from the section of the meeting, despite a member of the committee saying she saw “no reason” for it to be heard in private.

Lichfield Civic Society said the local authority needed to take a more open approach to discussing the issue.

“Secretiveness breeds rumour and suspicion, especially when the proposal is so contentious.

“It also places councillors who may support a more open approach, in an impossible position with their constituents.”

Lichfield Civic Society spokesperson

“Ongoing discussions”

Land at Netherstowe
The land at Netherstowe earmarked for housing

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.

One reply on “Council told “secretiveness breeds rumour and suspicion” as committee prepares to debate controversial land deal in private”

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  1. I see there have been 28 views in the last 15 hrs of the meeting that was held entirely in public on the LDC website.

    The external auditors will report the result of the investigation, as planned and publicised, at the next meeting of the Audit and Standards Committee on the 27th of April.

    I am sure that if Lichfield Civic Society contacts Lichfield’s MP he will insist that the District Council puts that report in public giving the reasons why it should be exempt from the ‘confidentiality rules’.

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