Council says it's in public interest to keep golf resort details secret
- Credit: Archant © 2013
A council has again refused to say what it is doing with a country club it spent £9m on because it says it is in the public interest to keep it confidential.
At a Breckland Council meeting on Thursday a discussion about what the council has decided to do with Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club was held behind closed doors, despite calls from opposition councillors for it to be in the open.
Breckland’s Conservative-run cabinet made a decision last week about the future of resort, which it spent £7m buying and £2m revamping in 2006, but it has not said what that decision is.
A council document published ahead of the meeting warned there was a “high risk” of interest from the media, but added that the decision should not be published.
It said it was keeping it secret because: “It is more in the public interest to withhold the information because releasing the information would expose the identity of the business and their affairs which could have a detrimental (sic) effect on the business and its longevity.”
In 2018 it tried to sell the club to the current tenants, but the sale never happened.
More than two years later it is unclear whether it is planning to sell it again to the tenants or renegotiate the lease.
Opposition councillors demanded last week that the decision be “called in” to the council’s overview and scrutiny commission on Thursday so it could be debated, but that part of the meeting was then held in private.
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Before going into closed session, Timothy Birt from the Green Party said aspects of the council's deal for Barnham Broom should be discussed in private but there were parts which should be held in public.
But council officer, Mark Stinson, responded: "There is a lot of information in there which would be detrimental to the authority and the tenant if that information was discussed in public."
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Terry Jermy, Labour leader, said the council was presenting Barnham Broom as a successful investment but needed to be "more honest and clear" with its figures.
Councillors voted by seven to two to hold the meeting in private.
After the meeting, Mr Birt added: "I'm sure if residents could see just some of the information they would be appalled at how this asset has performed and how Breckland Council seems to roll over and have it tummy tickled every time there is a problem."