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Council sells £8m golf club, insists it is a secret, but tells Conservative candidates

PUBLISHED: 07:45 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:52 26 March 2019

The Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa is being sold by its owners Breckland Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa is being sold by its owners Breckland Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A council which spent £8m on a golf club secretly agreed to sell it months ago, but kept the public in the dark about it while telling Conservative election candidates the confidential information.

Breckland Council bought Barnham Broom for £8m in 2006. It is not clear how much it is selling it for. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBreckland Council bought Barnham Broom for £8m in 2006. It is not clear how much it is selling it for. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Leaked minutes from a meeting of Breckland Council’s Conservative Group show councillors agreed on October 11 last year to sell Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club and agreed the details of that sale.

The council bought the club and hotel in 2006.

In October Breckland’s cabinet made a decision about the future of the club in secret and refused to say what it decided.

However the leaked minutes of the group meeting reveal executive member for assets Adrian Stasiak told his fellow Conservative councillors on October 11 that Barnham Broom was “looking tired and needed reinvestment and that this is the right time to dispose of the asset”.

Cllr Harry Clarke (l) asked council chief executive Anna Graves to investigate a claim by Cllr Pablo Dimoglou (r) that Conservative party members were told confidential information about Barnham Broom. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesCllr Harry Clarke (l) asked council chief executive Anna Graves to investigate a claim by Cllr Pablo Dimoglou (r) that Conservative party members were told confidential information about Barnham Broom. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

The Conservative members agreed at their meeting to sell it. That decision was meant to be commercially confidential with only councillors told.

But the minutes show party members who are not councillors were also at the meeting.

It means that while telling the public for six months that the matter was commercially confidential, the party’s leadership had already told members of the public, who were standing as Conservative candidates in May’s election.

On October 16, the council’s cabinet met and was given three options for Barnham Broom.

Anna Graves, joint chief executive of Breckland District Council and South Holland District CouncilAnna Graves, joint chief executive of Breckland District Council and South Holland District Council

The council said that its cabinet considered all the options, but according to the leaked minutes Conservative members had already made the decision five days earlier.

The document does not detail what the council agreed to sell it for or why it was never put on the open market.

Labour councillor Harry Clarke wrote to the chief executive of the council Anna Graves in January asking her to investigate the allegation that prospective Conservative candidates were told about the council’s plan for Barnham Broom.

Mr Clarke said it “made a mockery” of the council’s insistence that its Barnham Broom decision had to be kept secret.

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn. Picture: Ian BurtLeader of Breckland Council William Nunn. Picture: Ian Burt

A council spokesman said it could not comment because Barnham Broom was “commercially sensitive”.

But they added the council was investigating the claim confidential information was passed to Conservative candidates.

Leader of the Conservative group and council William Nunn said: “I am fully supportive of the ongoing investigation and await the outcome of this process before commenting further.” Barnham Broom declined to comment.

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