County council wanted ten times the independent valuation for Holbeach travellers site land

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COUNTY council bosses demanded £400,000 for the Holbeach travellers site land – ten times the amount an independent valuer put on it.

COUNTY council bosses demanded £400,000 for the Holbeach travellers site land – ten times the amount an independent valuer put on it.

The site has been ready for use for months. South Holland District Council is trying to agree a deal for the land, off the A151 link road, so it can relocate travellers from Cranmore Lane.

The vast gulf between the price expected by Lincolnshire County Council and the district valuer – who said it was worth £40,000 – has been revealed in a damning report drawn up by a task group of district councillors.

The county council withdrew opposition to a Compulsory Purchase Order proposed by the district council in September 2009 – and the wrangle over how much the land is worth has rumbled on since.

The county council has blocked previous attempts from this paper to obtain a valuation for the land – and recently refused a Freedom of Information request on the grounds it would publish the detail in the future.

It said last week that the information would be “likely to prejudice any discussions and subsequent successful negotiations pertaining to the sale of the land”.

The district report will go to this Wednesday’s Performance Monitoring Panel meeting and has been drawn up using evidence from officers and members involved with the saga.

A county council spokesman said: “This report was actually drawn up months ago and things have moved on considerably since.

“Agents acting for both parties have agreed in principle the land valuation and compensation claim, which is now subject to respective clients confirming agreement to our recommendations. We are therefore hopeful of concluding this matter in the very near future.”

The task group report urges the council not to start work on any future sites before such wrangles are resolved – and to appoint a dedicated project manager.

The group was chaired by Coun Doug Best, who said: “People in Holbeach are up in arms. I think the whole thing is a terrible mess – they have got themselves into a right old muddle.”