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 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:
“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.
“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