The leader of Lichfield District Council says he is determined that lessons will be learnt from the controversy over proposed sale of open space for housing.

The land at Netherstowe that had been earmarked for housing before a public backlash

The scheme for Leyfields and Netherstowe was axed after a public backlash when it emerged the sale had been agreed without the correct consultation taking place.

A report recommending how the local authority should manage the disposal or sale of land and property will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on 6th July.

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said:

Doug Pullen

“The mistakes that were made in the consultation process to sell the public open space at Netherstowe and Leyfields, and the distress that this caused to members of the community, have been extensively reported.

“This is something that we genuinely regret.

“Most important to us has been learning the lessons from that situation. This is what has enabled us to put forward this proposed approach to managing the disposal of assets where this is considered the best way to achieve our strategic objectives or where an asset can be viewed as surplus.

“As highlighted in the policy, we need to make sure we have clear, transparent and approved procedures and a framework to make sure we fulfil all of our obligations if we are in a position to dispose of land or property we own.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

The failed sale will see a six figure sum paid by the council to housing association Bromford who had intended to buy the sites for housing.

The report says an additional £900 will also be paid to an individual for “abortive legal fees for a linked sale to allow access to a property at the Leyfields site”.

“Tick box process”

Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, said there will still many unanswered questions.

Steve Norman

“The council leadership have now come up with a tick box process to avoid this waste of taxpayers’ money happening again, but the report does not say what the process was in 2018 and if there was one, whether it was followed. 

“The Conservative cabinet agreed the sale in 2018 but then did nothing until the attempt at consultation in November last year.

“What did the cabinet member responsible, and the cabinet as a whole in fact, think had happened to the Bromford agreement in the intervening two years? Why did they not ask about progress on planning permission which was essential to the deal – even if they were ignorant of the legislation that has been around for 46 years? 

“The council had identified £527,000 in capital receipts for their financial plans which will not be forthcoming and in fact have lost nearly £118,000 in costly mistakes.

“I, and other members no doubt will be pursuing these questions at the Audit and Standards Committee in July.” 

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

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7 Comments

  1. LDC once again does not come out of this saga “smelling of roses” – more like smelling of gross incompetence at our expense!

  2. The lesson learnt was —- how to WASTE taxpayers money and get away with it ? Sad situation for the future

  3. would be very interesting to know what land LDC does own, or in other words what the public own, and does “Lichfield City council” own any land
    Is it possible to see a register of land ownership by LDC and City Council

  4. So lessons have been learned from the Leyfields and Netherstowe fiasco according to Councillor Pullen. Have they really .? I note that Cabinet will be considering a guidance document called “The Disposal of Land and Property Assets.” Lichfield District Council was created in 1974 and we have had to wait 47 years for such guidance. The guidance proposed by Lichfield District Council is so superficial and is a statement of the obvious. Incidentally, why wasn’t such guidance introduced straight after the Friarsgate fiasco. No excuses, the former Chief Executive is a Chartered Surveyor and should have been aware of such matters.The proposed guidance by Lichfield District Council is certainly not a panacea as the whole of the Leyfields and Netherstowe scandal was as a result of the total breakdown of corporate governance by officers( some of whom are still in their jobs) of LDC( hence the reason why the then Chief Executive resigned.) as well as the abject failure by Cabinet members and other councillors.
    I note that the whole of the Leyfields and Netherstowe scandal is due to be considered at the Lichfield District Council Audit Committee. This is indeed fortuitous as one of the newly nominated members of this committee is also one of the major players in the Leyfields and Netherstowe saga. Currently serving officers are also very much aware of what transpired. We are talking here of very senior personnel and not junior staff( who were not experienced in what they were doing.) So Councillor Pullen, in the interests of transparency , you will no doubt be insisting that your newly nominated colleague together with officers will be appearing before the Audit Committee and inform everybody what happened. This is how the parliamentary select committees conduct their enquiries. It should be no different in local government.

  5. How do they not understand that people who live in lichfield NEED these open spaces, they are used daily by many and they have remained open and not built on for a reason! If you weren’t doing anything underhanded why keep it so quiet… more transparency from the Lichfield council is much needed.

  6. I have just finished watching the Lichfield District Council Cabinet meeting. I was particularly interested on the item relating to Leyfields and Netherstowe. I was most interested to see how the members would respond to the questions posed by Ross Hawkes in Lichfield Live Newsletter of 4th July 2021. Ross was highly critical of the external investigation conducted on behalf of Lichfield District Council. He pointed out that most of the documents were in the public domain. This is how I managed to obtain all of my information relating to Leyfields and Netherstowe. This is how I know the names of all of the officers and councillors involved in this saga. More evidence has been forthcoming following requests made under both the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The letter dated 8th February 2021 from Devonshires (solicitors to Bromford Housing) and sent to Lichfield District Council has now been put in the public domain. I will have to keep your readers in suspense as to what this letter contains as I understand that this going to be undertaken in the media in due course. Let me be clear about this letter. There is nothing confidential about the contents, only embarrassing revelations about the actions of Lichfield District Council officers.
    I seem to recall Councillor Pullen in May 2021 in Lichfield Live stating” It is recommended that the council pay reasonable costs to Bromford which amount to £116865.97.” Work is on ongoing to consider if there can be a claim on the council’s professional indemnity insurance to cover any or all of these costs but that will depend on the outcome of the external investigation and whether there is any evidence of maladministration or professional negligence.” At the Cabinet meeting there was no mention as to who would be footing the costs of reimbursing Bromford. Time for Councillor Pullen to be transparent with the Council Taxpayers of Lichfield. Who is paying.? Council insurers or Council Taxpayers.

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