Answers are still needed on how a controversial deal to sell public open space in Lichfield came to be agreed, a councillor has said.
Members of Lichfield District Council’s audit and member standards committee were discussing an external investigation into the proposed sale of land at Leyfields and Netherstowe for housing.
The agreement was made without the proper consultation as outlined in the 1972 Local Government Act or the knowledge of the current leader of the local authority.
The external investigator has made a number of recommendations to ensure similar mistakes are not made in future – but the report stopped short of identifying who had been responsible for the sale being agreed without the proper processes being followed.
Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group, told the committee that questions still needed to be answered.
“There seem to be some very basic things that didn’t happen – ignorance of the 1972 Local Government Act and the lack of consultation there.
“It’s very odd that that should have been missed.
“It’s all very disappointing that it happened and it will no doubt cost this council money.
“It was a previous leader of the council in 2018 and I wonder if he should be before a scrutiny committee or this audit committee when the time comes?
“We will want to know who didn’t do what and when they didn’t do it at some point in the future – let’s not pretend that we don’t want to pursue that further.”Cllr Steve Norman
Planning permission for housing on both sites has now been dropped, but details of any financial cost to the local authority are expected to be outlined in a future report to the cabinet.
But Diane Tilley, chief executive of Lichfield District Council, said that pursuing “bloodletting” would not aid the ability to learn lessons from the episode.
“I will need to understand what benefit it is to know who did what?
“This is an exercise in learning for the council. I’ve publicly stated that none of the officers involved are any longer working for this council.
“I need to be protecting my workforce to the extent that this is not about – to use a dramatic term – bloodletting.
“If I can understand why it was needed to be known who the people involved were then I can answer that question.”Diane Tilley
Cllr Norman said he remained hopeful that the full story of how the deal came to be agreed would come to light.
“I know that it’s always been the case that the person who causes the problem is no longer with the local authority – I’ve been here long enough for that to be a regular thing.
“But there are some political answers we will want and hopefully we’ll get them at some point at the future.”Cllr Steve Norman