Travellers’ site investigation

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AN INVESTIGATION is being held into an allegation surrounding the cost of Holbeach travellers’ site.

The Audit Commission has been looking into the complaint by a member of the public that South Holland District Council’s expenditure on the Rose View Drive site was “unlawful”.

The site has been dogged by controversy, not least questions about how much the district council spent buying the land for the site from Lincolnshire County Council.

The district council’s initial valuation was £40,000 – ten times less than the county council’s asking price.

Agreement was finally reached in July last year, but the final figure was kept under wraps because it was “commercially sensitive”.

It has now been revealed that South Holland District Council paid £114,000 to buy the land and pay compensation and losses.

It means the total spent on providing the ten-pitch site off the A151 link road is in the region of £1,076,000.

The basis of the complaint against the council has not been revealed, but South Holland District Council’s accounts for the year 2010-11 are still awaiting certification by the external auditor as a result.

The auditor is not allowed to issue the audit certificate until the investigation is complete, which is expected to happen by October 31.

The cost of the investigation, which will be charged to the council, is expected to be around £30,000.

The Holbeach travellers’ site was supposed to be one of three for which the council received Government funding of £1.7m.

Less than £640,000 is now available for the other two, including a temporary site earmarked for Sutton Bridge.

A planning application for the third, possibly at Broad Drove, Gosberton Clough, is expected this autumn.