Resignation call as running of Norfolk County Council’s farm estate is branded a ‘shambles’

County councillor Ian Mackie. Pic: Submitted.

County councillor Ian Mackie. Pic: Submitted. - Credit: Submitted

The running of Norfolk's 16,000 acres of county farms was branded a 'shambles', amid calls for a councillor's resignation following a highly critical report.

Auditors at Norfolk County Council were called to go through the books of the estate last year prompted by complaints, including over the process which saw councillors on the county farms advisory board helping direct officers on who should get tenancies.

While the report said no potential criminal matters or member misconduct had been identified, it said 'key issues' needed addressing.

The report stated: 'The reporting of decisions and activity has not been sufficiently clear to counter a perception by some tenants and the wider public that decisions may be unfair or subject to favouritism.'

The report came before the council's audit committee yesterday.

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Conservative Ian Mackie, chairman of the audit committee and the county farms advisory board, left the room while the matter was discussed.

Labour's Mick Castle said he should resign as chairman of the advisory board.

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He said: 'The good ship county farms has hit the rocks and the captain should go.'

UKIP's David Ramsbotham said: 'The report suggests the running of the county estate is effectively a shambles.'

But stand-in chairman, Conservative Roger Smith, who questioned why the auditors had not interviewed members of the advisory board, said it was not fair to call for resignations when the board had not been given a right to reply.

Speaking afterwards Mr Mackie said he would not resign. He said: 'This process has a long way to run. The advisory board has not been given the opportunity to comment and the report has not identified any member misconduct.'

The committee agreed the report should be put to the county farms advisory board and a request made for a group to consider the governance issues.

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