North Lincolnshire

Councillors reject call for inquiry into council’s £4m Broughton land bid

Councillors rejected a call for an inquiry into North Lincolnshire Council’s £4 million bid for 500 acres of land near the M180.

The council had an offer for the land known as Vale Farm turned down by owners Jerry Green Dog Rescue in December 2017.

A plan was proposed to build 140 affordable homes on the site and create 250 jobs as part of the purchase.

But, Labour councillors raised concern over the transparency of the negotiations and put forward a motion at an Extraordinary Meeting of the council today for an independent inquiry into the attempted purchase.

Councillor Len Foster, leader of the Labour group, said that the party will continue to pursue the issue.

“Whatever happens at this meeting, this will not be the end of the Labour Party trying to find out what happened at Vale Farm,” he said.

“The residents of North Lincolnshire need answers.

“Why were we trying to buy a farm when we spent seven years trying to sell them?”

He added that the bid was anonymous and that it could have put the council in more debt.

But council leader, Councillor Rob Waltham, said that the authority had a right to bid confidentially for land for housing and leisure facilities.

“It is a council process that keeps the council safe, but it also allows us to buy land for housing,” he said.

“I’m confident that legal processes were followed by officers of this council.

“Why would we compromise the integrity of that bid?”

Councillor Waltham added that the authority lost the bid to another buyer.

Owners of the land, Jerry Green Dog Rescue, expressed concern at media reports of development on the land during the negotiations in September 2017.

A statement from the charity today said that an initial purchase of the land came to an end after North Lincolnshire Council rejected an offer for the charity to receive a percentage on the future value of the land following the reports.

The statement said: “An overage is a fairly standard request in land transactions where it is believed there may be a significant increase in the value of the land in the future.

“An overage secures a percentage of the future value of the land for the original owner as a condition of a sale. It does not require any further money to be paid at the point of sale.

“It is similar to deals that football clubs do when they sell young players with an agreement they will get a share of any future transfer fee.

“North Lincolnshire Council refused this request and so the sale transaction was ended. The site was put out to tender again.”

A revised offer from the council with an overage was later turned down and a bid was accepted from another buyer.

No further negotiations are currently being carried out between North Lincolnshire Council and Jerry Green Dog Rescue.

Councillors voted down a motion for an independent inquiry into the attempted purchase by 20 votes to 15.