A row has erupted between political leaders over the sale of a section of land in Colne for housing.
Labour and the Lib Dems which control Pendle Council have been accused of “profiteering” by Conservative leader Coun. Joe Cooney over a proposal to sell off land adjacent to Sacred Heart School in Red Lane to a private developer for £1.2m.
The proposal, which is due to be discussed by the council’s Executive tomorrow night, recommends selling the land at The Meadows to Beck Developments. The land in question adjoins the site already owned by the company which it wants to develop.
Deputy Leader of Pendle Council and Liberal Democrat Leader, Coun. Tony Greaves, has hit back accusing the Conservatives of “astonishing hypocrisy”.
Land adjacent to The Meadows was the site of an unsuccessful 36 home application in 2015, but Beck Developments is intending to submit a larger development of around 48 houses at the same location incorporating the land it hopes to buy, but with an access off Red Lane rather than The Meadows.
Coun. Cooney said: “This is simple profiteering by Pendle Council, they have been wooed by a big development firms cheque book and they are happy to sell the residents and the school down the river so long as they get their hands on the cash.
“We don’t even know what would happen to the £1.2m., how much would be spent on the local community, how much would be spent in Colne?
“On the same night they plan to sell this land off the council intends to borrow £2m. to buy the Ace Centre that they already own.
“I might be being cynical but something doesn’t seem right about that and we will end up not seeing a penny of the money and instead it will be poured into the white elephant that the ACE Centre has become.”
Coun. Nathan McCollum added: “The Liberal Democrats and Labour Party recently held a public meeting on an evening they knew Coun. Cooney couldn’t attend and they didn’t even bother to invite me. They told local residents this is the best they could hope for, well now we know why they want the cash and have no regard for the impact any development would have on local residents.”
Coun. Cooney added: “I’ve already been contacted by several local residents who are concerned at this proposal, it’s this simple if Pendle Council refuses to sell the land then it can’t be developed. This is completely within the power of the Labour and Liberal Democrats, it’s time for them to stand up for local residents rather than cow towing to big property developers.”
Coun. Greaves said the Conservatives were telling “blatant lies” and that given the Inspector’s decision, Beck could still use an access off the Meadows if they so wished.
He said: “The reason for doing this is to protect residents in The Meadows from access to the proposed housing development.
“If the council sells this land it will mean that there will be no access via the Meadows for ever.
“Coun. Cooney was part of the meeting of top Pendle councillors and officers which negotiated the agreement with Beck Homes and never expressed any disagreement with the proposal.
“The top Pendle councillors called a public meeting to discuss this some weeks ago to explain the position to residents. There was a general acceptance that in the circumstances it was the best way forward for the council and for residents.
“Coun. Cooney was invited to the meeting and promised he would attend but did not bother to turn up.
“Coun. McCollum was personally invited to the meeting by me. He also discussed it before the meeting with Coun. David Clegg.”