When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Tory backs land probe
A CONSERVATIVE councillor has broken ranks to declare his support for an independent investigation into the Manydown land saga.
Councillor Sven Godesen, who represents the Basing ward on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, has said he is willing to go against his own party to ensure “the right thing” is done.
Members have to deal with the aftermath of April’s High Court ruling, which blasted the council’s handling of the 820-hectare land as “unlawful and irrational”.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council was criticised after failing to consider building homes on the land as part of a borough-wide plan covering the next 15 years.
The Manydown Company, which sold the land to the council in 1996, began legal action at the end of last year when the Tory administration refused to consider the site for development.
Company bosses said they sold the land on the understanding it would be used for house-building, from which they will take part of the profits.
Instead, it has been claimed by political opponents that the Conservatives are deliberately blocking development on Manydown to protect seats to the west of Basingstoke.
Cllr Godesen said any investigation has to be carried out independently to ensure residents are satisfied with the outcome.
He told The Gazette: “I feel strongly that this is a boil that needs to be lanced. We do need an investigation and that needs to be conducted by an independent, third party if for no other reason than the conclusions will then have to be accepted by all.”
Cllr Godesen, whose Basing ward was earmarked for building sites in the initial development plans, added: “There is a danger that if we conduct this investigation in-house, then the results will be challenged as not being carried out properly. All voters must be satisfied that this situation has been resolved.”
Council leader Cllr Clive Sanders said he did not agree with his Tory colleague. He added: “What I would prefer is that we set up a proper scrutiny committee to have a look at the events. I would even be happy for that to be chaired by a member of another party. That way we could hold meetings in the full glare of the public and everybody can see what is being said.
“If we employ a third party, they will go off and make this report in private.”
The council meets on Thursday, July 12 to discuss whether to fund an independent investigation by auditors Ernst and Young.