Council will not release value of controversial seaside land sale
A council will not release the new value of prime seaside land in Bridlington after claiming it is 'commercially sensitive'.
The decision follows a furore in March about the 2014 deal between East Riding Council and its cash-strapped tenant, Belvedere Golf Club.
The deal, according to club minutes, involved it being sold the freehold of the 116-acre golf course for Â£750,000 and then it selling the 16th hole to a developer for Â£1.65m, who would build 22 houses and a hotel to give the club a new income stream.
That provoked concern that the land was significantly undervalued and the public purse could potentially lose out to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
At the time, chartered surveyor Bruce Collinson told BBC Look North that the council was not getting best value, suggesting the price should be closer to Â£2.25m.
The council has now confirmed that it asked the District Valuer to revalue the land.
Asked if ward councillor David Robson would get to see the result, the council said it was “commercially sensitive”.
Coun Robson said: “They are determined not to tell me.
"They could inform me confidentially, so at least when people ask: ‘Are we getting the right value?’ I could say: ‘I have been consulted and although I don’t agree with the sale, the way it is being done satisfies your concerns.
“This is a major asset in my ward. How can councillors in Beverley tell a local councillor, basically it’s none of your business?”
Leeds-based Mr Collinson said the price of the land would eventually appear in the Land Registry, but it could be several months after the transaction is completed.
He added: “Just claiming commercial sensitivity is too easy. It is still opaque at best.”
Audit committee member Coun Ros Jump said she felt it was insulting that ward councillors are “deemed not to be capable of keeping confidential secrets”.
Coun Jump added: “Some councillors and residents still can’t understand why the land hasn’t gone up for public tender given that it is tied in with the immediate sale of the 16th hole.”
A council spokesman said: "The council requested that the District Valuer revalue the Bridlington Golf Club site, the results of this have been received but are commercially sensitive.
"The council is in ongoing discussions with Bridlington Golf Club over the sale of the site."
Club manager Anthony Howarth said he was “keeping fingers crossed” that the sale would go through shortly.
Asked whether there was any intention to develop the course for housing, he said: “At the end of the day it’s a golf course, we have been here 110 to 115 years and want to be here another 110 to 115 years.
"We have no intention of anything other than playing golf. (It’s) just the 16th hole, that’s the only bit for sale.”