Lincolnshire County Council is South Holland ‘enemy’

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LINCOLNSHIRE County Council should be treated as an “enemy” from now on, according to Coun Gary Porter.

The leader of South Holland District Council delivered a scathing verdict of the county authority at a cabinet meeting this week during a discussion on the lessons to be learnt for the Holbeach travellers’ site saga.

In last week’s Lincolnshire Free Press we revealed that the county council had asked for £400,000 for the land opposite Northons Lane that the district wanted to buy off it for a ten-pitch site.

That figure was ten times higher than the price tag put on it by the independent District Valuer.

The information came out in a report from a task group of councillors into the delay and overspend of the project which was presented to the cabinet on Tuesday.

At that meeting, the last before the district elections on May 5, Coun Porter was asked why the figures were so far apart.

He replied: “The difference in valuation was the county council taking the Mickey because they were not wanting to sell it to us.

“Our valuation for the land was the correct valuation as it stood.”

He said that the district council’s policy was helping Lincolnshire County Council, which has the responsibility of looking after the traveller community.

Coun Porter added: “I think we were doing our bit to help county out of its predicament on this agenda and I think they have treated us poorly.

“We know now to treat them as enemies in future.

“I would suggest the incoming council in May treats the county council as hostile on future matters.”

Coun Porter also revealed the bid to purchase a temporary stop off site at Wingland and the search for a third traveller site are both on hold while the Holbeach issue is resolved. The district council was allocated £1.7m for the three sites but the cost of the Holbeach one has spiralled to £1m.

The cabinet agreed to the task group’s recommendations that a ‘project manager’ should be appointed to similar projects in future and that the way the assessment of this site was done should be looked into.

Coun Doug Best told this paper that he had expected a hostile reaction to his report – but Coun Porter said the task group was set up to ensure the matter was not a whitewash and to learn lessons.

He added: “It is quite clear that we did not get this 100 per cent right and we need to look at what can be done for the next one.”