Confusion and continuing secrecy are surrounding Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) bid to buy former RAF Coltishall.

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Site owner the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed to the EDP on Friday that contracts had not yet been exchanged for the former Battle of Britain fighter base, which closed in 2006.

But both a leading county councillor behind the bid and a spokesman for nearby residents opposed to the sale say an NCC officer clearly stated at an inaugural meeting of the Community Liaison Reference Group - set up to brief interested parties and help them shape plans - that the exchange had taken place.

However, an NCC press release issued after the July 12 meeting qualified that announcement, claiming that there had been “an initial” exchange of contracts.

The puzzle comes as the MoJ has refused, for a second time, to disclose details surrounding the sale of the 600-acre base following a Freedom of Information Act (FoI) request from the EDP.

We wanted to know why the MoJ had dropped Bruce Giddy’s Hans House Group of Companies and instead made NCC its preferred bidder.

Mr Giddy offered £4.1m for the site and had plans including a large solar farm and a heritage centre, using historic buildings.

The council wants to rip up the runway and restore much of the site to farmland, possibly recycling the resulting aggregate in the planned northern distributor road (NDR).

But, in an official FoI response, the ministry said releasing the information could result in the preferred bid being amended or withdrawn, and harm the MoJ’s reputation for handling commercial negotiations.

The ministry also refused to disclose information after an FoI request by the EDP in November 2010 to discover who was bidding for RAF Coltishall at the time.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said if the council and Mr Giddy allowed public disclosure of their bid details the MoJ’s objection would “fall away.”

He added: “It should be possible to be open about it, which is always my preference.”

Steve Riley, chairman of the Badersfield Campaign Committee for the protection and development of ex-RAF Coltishall, which opposes the NCC bid, said the July 12 announcement that contracts had been exchanged had given the impression that there was “not much left to argue about.”

Mr Riley claimed the statement was “outrageously misleading” because it was denied by the MoJ, and he condemned the liaison group as a “cynical propaganda exercise”.

Councillor Cliff Jordan, the liaison group chairman and cabinet member for efficiency, said he too had heard Mike Britch, head of the county’s NPS property arm, say at the meeting that contracts had been exchanged.

But Mr Jordan did not think the discrepancy was significant. “As I understand it they have exchanged contracts although there is some work left to do.”

He added: “There is nothing ‘iffy’ about this deal at all. It’s all straight as a gun barrel.”

24 comments

  • Well just goes to show how much honesty and transparency we can expect from NCC when they start the first liaison meeting with a downright lie ! A question for the MOJ, how can you allow the Council to rip up the runway, knowing the disruption this will cause to the residents of Badersfield, or more importantly, to your prisoners in HMP Bure. We all know how the prisoners are mollycoddled and treated as if they have far more rights than we, the law abiding. Will the poor dears have to put up with the noise, dust and upheaval when the runway is ripped up ? I bet the greedy lawyers are rubbing their hands in delight at the thought of all those prisoners suing the MOJ for the awful conditions they had to endure whilst behind bars. Yet again the tax-payers of this fine land will end up paying through the nose for the incompetency of the MOJ and NCC.

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    Sicktothebackteeth

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • I still think the powers that be are being very short sighted re coltishall , looking to the future it makes sense to move Norwich airport , much more space ,longer runway to land bigger planes. It would certainly help put norwich & Norfolk on the map think how many more jobs it would create- as for digging up the runway to help make a road whatever next.....

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    Sandaryeos grandad

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

  • Agreed Sayitasitis, if the place is inappropriate for wind power, but what of those farmers who had to give up this land, what ideas have they got? Energy generation that attracts public subsidies should ideally be co-owned by the public, the local community. Maybe NCC should organise a public meeting in Coltishall, invite suggestions and ideas from the local community, this is not consultation, we are merely talking about it. Fact is, that NCC back room decision making is not sufficient and it is detrimental to Norfolk.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Iffy Cliffy should be concerned, though I'm virtually certain he won't be. The lovely Alex Hurrell wrote this piece and we now have 16 comments, incl this one. NOT ONE is in any way FOR the council, ALL are against I may refer you to my previous posts as to why?

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    windup

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Sayitasitis, first lets consult as to what Coltishall people want to see on the site, don't you think that's the most important bit? I'm fine with using the hardcore for house foundations or road construction, as for the solar farm, lets see if it is still happening without our tax subsidies. Without communicating to local voters, all these ideas are just that.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Asking any employee of NCC a question is a waste of time. I asked a simple question on 7 June, regarding the implementation of a weight limit through a village in West Norfolk. To date they haven't managed to answer my question.

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    nicholas dasey

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • How about a very selective Prison on the site. 'iffy' Cliffy & 'dodgy' Derek could be first and depending on their nicknames, the rest of the cabinet could follow! Dress them all in rabbit outfits and let West Norfolk residents bait them. Sounds like a plan........

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    disolushund

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • In common with the incinerator fiasco,Norfolk County Council's communications with the public lack clarity and present a "take-it or leave-it" attitude toward public opinion.The MoJ thus appear as co-conspirators when they use the cloak of "commercial confidentiality" to prevent perfectly acceptable FOI requests.It all leaves a nasty taste which could have been avoided and, in the mind of the public, that there is some sort of hidden agenda due to the distinct lack of openness all round.

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • "Councillor Cliff Jordan, the liaison group chairman and cabinet member for efficiency, " I had to read this twice! A COUNCIL person who is in charge of EFFICIENCY!! I still can't believe what I have now read 3 times! Asking a council for anything close to efficiency would be akin to asking Rolf Harris for advice on ship building!!! No wonder our taxes are so high when we have to pay people like these.

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    Windless

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Given Mr Jordan and Mr Murphy's handling of the car park in Holt I'm not surprised by the issues with this.

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    Jono

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Mr Jordan says this is as straight as a gun barrel. Firearms with long barrels are commonly called rifles because the inside of the barrels are rifled. Bit like the pockets of the people of Norfolk. As for the MoJ's statement that its reputation may be harmed. That horse has bolted. We all have an idea of their reputation and none of us are lost in admiration I would imagine.

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    alecto

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Why should the taxpayer fund this purchase when Private business can fund a development which will offer many jobs, apprenticeships, a heritage centre which will attract tourists as well as keep Norfolk hisory alive and most importantly NOT DISTURB THE CONTAMINATION BELOW THE AIRFIELD. I quote:- Mr Jordan did not think the discrepancy was significant. “As I understand it they have exchanged contracts although there is some work left to do.” This was in responce to NCC officer Mike Britch informing the liason group that contracts had been exchanged contracts to buy RAF Coltisahll. Some of us are very aware of just how EFFICIENT the Cabinet member for Efficiency is! I can assure you it is not very, especially where the truth, or administration are concerned!!!

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    Joy, King's Lynn

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • IF “There is nothing ‘iffy’ about this deal at all. It’s all straight as a gun barrel.” - Why is the MOD not releasing details about the contracts. Always remember Gun barrels have a twist running through them from start to finish

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    Farquarson-Smythe

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Cllr Jordan has inadvertantly given himself a new nickname with this particular story and I will now refer to him as Iffy Cliffy. And if he doesn't like it? Well, as he said to someone else - he can go 'jump up a wall'.

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    Fenscape

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Cliff Jordan and his cabinet members don't care what you want you will get what is on their agenda. Waste incinerators are their love at the moment 65.516 said NO and they did not give a hoot. I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them. Time to get them out fast.We need more councillors to stand up to this bullying before you end up with a waste incinerator on your doorstep. So get up and do something about it.

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    Jack

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Wasn't Broadland Council, along with north Norfolk Council in favour of incineration for our rubbish? Surely there is a simple solution here! West Norfolk don't want an incinerator, Broadland do, so build it at Coltishall. Maybe I should claim an allowance for my good ideas?

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    smithrob

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • I have already written 2 mails to the specially created site, 'FutureofRAFColtishall@norfolk.gov.uk' No replies so far. This will be a complete mess, as nearly anything a council does always is. Inept and incompetent people way out of their depth. The airfield should remain as an airfield either for limited recreational use or as a standby for military use in the unknown future. It makes FAR more sense to have a 50Mw solar farm on it than two ridiculous 400Kw max wind turbines just over the fence at Scottow. 50Mw is 50,000,000 watts, 2 x 400Kw is 800,000 watts, not worth the bother. I am deeply suspicious also about the relationship between the Scottow estate and NCC relationship re these turbines, I feel an already done deal here, especially with the new access gate. Then we have the 30,000 lorry loads or crushed concrete just for the runway, probably nearer 90,000 if you include the taxiways and hardstandings, I'm glad I don't live in Badersfield, Coltishall, Wroxham, or Buxton. Years of these things moving the hardcore. Then we start on contaminated soil, some of it berrillium, some slightly radioactive from buried instruments etc, and we're going to allow a council to deal with that! I think not. It took the same people 12 YEARS to build a small hospital in Cromer and they were all patting themselves on the backs the other day when they finally opened a tiny wee toilet block in N Walsham! The worst possible option for the ex RAF Coltishall is any council getting anywhere near it.

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    windup

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Iffy Jordan was not selected to continue serving on Breckland Council, now he's trying to run Norfolk.

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    beverley

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Beverley, you missed out the i in run! What do the North Norfolk and Broadland planning proposals say for the Coltishall site. After all the Planners will decide, won't they?

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    bedoomed

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Ingo I agree with most of what you say, however, if I am honest, all I want from the site is that it does NOT have the 2 wind turbines in planning by Scottow estate via Airvolution. At 425ft high they will dominate our lovely skyline and won't produce any useful quantities of electricity. All they WILL do is feed the already rich landowner with taxes from all of us, whether we can afford or not on our utility bills. The possible solar farm is an infinitely better bet, subsidies or not, as it will work in most daytime conditions and it doesn't need to be windy. BTW, the average wind at RAF Coltishall measured carefully over 25 years is 11.5mph! To achieve its rated power, the average wind turbine needs approx 30mph, a rare event indeed in these parts, as the Coltishall records show.

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    windup

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • So, this is the 22nd comment re this article now, and STILL none are showing any support for the NCC's ideas, indeed the thread through all is a deep suspicion of anything they are planning to do. I DID have a reply to a mail to the "'FutureofRAFColtishall@norfolk.gov.uk" saying "We are in the early stages of developing a Master Plan setting out detailed proposals for the site's future. " I had a good laugh at that one, any council having a Master Plan for ANYTHING would be a world first!!

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    Windless

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

  • Doesn't Iffy Cliffy understand that you either enter into a binding contractual commitment - in common parlance "exchange contracts" - or you don't. There are no half-measures. I suspect that the MoJ is correct on this one, and all that has emanated from County Hall is yet more spin intended to cause objectors to lose heart. Weren't we told, in the case of the waste incinerator, months ago that a call-in of the planning application by Eric Pickles had long ago been ruled out? And what is happening now? He is deciding whether or not to call it in. We have, on top of that, mud rubbed in our faces by the huge amounts of our money spent by NCC on its spin facility.

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    Nemesis

    Monday, July 23, 2012

  • Norfolk County Council have become a disgrace to democracy. The people of Norfolk deserve better and demand better.

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    Pete Bogg

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

  • Can't Norfolk Council come clean for a change?

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Monday, July 23, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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