A parish council is battling to recover money given for the benefit of Sutton Bridge after South Holland District Council funded one of its own employees from the £1million pot of cash.
Sutton Bridge Parish Council has submitted a series of freedom of information (FOI) requests to the district council in a long-running campaign to find out about the role of the capital projects officer it paid from the power station fund – and has now been told the post was held by Richard Baggaley, who was closely associated with its failed Red Lion Quarter project in Spalding.
The parish council also wanted a detailed breakdown of the officer’s work – including time sheets – so it could assess how much of Mr Baggaley’s work involved Sutton Bridge.
A letter to the parish council from South Holland District Council, signed by Vicky Thomson, assistant director of democratic services and monitoring officer, says: “I can confirm that Mr Richard Baggaley was the capital projects officer who was employed by South Holland District Council and worked on a number of projects across the district as a whole, including Sutton Bridge; for example Wingland, which I understand is geographically within the boundaries of the section 106 agreement.
“We are not able to provide further breakdown of the detail of work carried out or any allocation of time by the post holder as time sheets are not available.
“As this information is not held, there is no requirement under the Freedom of Information Act to provide it.”
Sutton Bridge Parish Council clerk Suzanne England told parish councillors on Tuesday that Mr Baggaley had played a major part in the development of Red Lion Quarter and was subsequently appointed manager of the site.
She said: “I understand his position there was relatively short-lived.
“In previous FOIs, they (South Holland District Council) have said they don’t know what that person did. From a basic search on the internet, I have got a pretty comprehensive list of things he should have been doing.”
Parish councillor Vicky Hills said: “Its nothing to do with Sutton Bridge. I think we want our £24,000 back, please.”
The Lincolnshire Free Press asked the district council a series of questions, including: “Why was money given to Sutton Bridge used to fund a council staff post – particularly one focusing on Spalding?”
We also asked if the money – understood to be £24,000 – would be refunded and whether interest earned on the power station fund had been repaid back into the account.
A council spokesman told us: “The questions are premature. We haven’t yet written to the parish council with our full response.”
The parish and district council will have face-to-face talks on the power station fund tomorrow (Wednesday) at South Holland’s offices in Spalding.
l The fund has paid for the village community centre, known as The Curlew Centre, in Bridge Road, and substantial sums will go towards a pleasure marina that’s due to be built on the River Nene later this year and a burial ground that’s expected to go beside Bridge Road, on the outskirts of the village, if planning consent is given.