Two years on, council is still trying to sell golf club

Barnham Broom. Photo: Bill Smith

Barnham Broom. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

A council is still deciding what to do about a country club it spent £9m on - more than two years after first trying to sell it.

Breckland Council’s leadership voted in October 2018 to get rid of Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club, which it bought in 2006 for £7m, and then spent another £2m doing up.

The council said in 2018 that the country club was “looking tired and needed reinvestment”. It agreed in private to sell it for £6.5m to the tenants.

However, that sale never happened and on Monday councillors on the Conservative cabinet met again in private and made a decision about the future of the club.

But the council would not say what that decision was. They said the information was exempt from publication because it related “to financial or business affairs”.

Breckland Council bought Barnham Broom for £8m in 2006. It is not clear how much it is selling it fo

Breckland Council bought Barnham Broom for £8m in 2006. It is not clear how much it is selling it for. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

In response, opposition councillors voiced their anger that decisions involving millions of pounds of public money were being made in secret.

They requested that opposition parties on the council’s scrutiny committee review the decision.

Next week, opposition councillors will be able to debate the matter, but that meeting will be held behind closed doors again, meaning the public will still not find out what decision the leadership has made.

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Roger Atterwill, leader of the Independent Group, said: “Given the size of the council’s financial investment to date we do not feel that the decision about the future of the asset should be made by just a handful of Conservative cabinet members behind closed doors.

Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill is warning communities will be up in armswhen reality sinks in.

Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill has "called in" the decision on Barnham Broom to the scrutiny committee - Credit: Archant

"We as the leaders of the three opposition groups have therefore exercised our right under the council’s constitution to call this matter in for wider scrutiny.”

Green Party leader Tim Birt accused the council of debating the matter in secret to “save it from embarrassment” rather than for commercial confidentiality reasons and called for the debate to be held in the open. 

Tim Birt

Green Party councillor Tim Birt - Credit: Matthew Usher

Labour leader Terry Jermy said he was not conviced that the council was getting the best value for Breckland residents with its decision on Barnham Broom.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said it was “reviewing the commercial relationship with the tenant”.

The council previously defended the purchase by saying it brought in £480,000 in rent a year.

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