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).
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
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.