Harpenden allotment row taken to ombudsman

PUBLISHED: 07:06 30 April 2012

Westfield allotments site, Harpenden

Westfield allotments site, Harpenden

AN ACTION group has taken its complaint over access to a site earmarked for new housing to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

Westfield Action Group (WAG) in Harpenden is fighting to prevent former allotment land adjoining members’ homes being developed but the issue it has raised with the Ombudsman is the access to the site across St Albans council-owned land in Willoughby Road and Beeching Close.

The complaint follows a Freedom of Information (FoI) request asking for copies of anything with the word Westfield from the mailboxes of two Conservative councillors who have been very involved in the issue.

Overturned

When the Conservatives took control of the district council last May, they overturned a previous Lib Dem decision not to allow access to the Westfield allotment site across the land in its ownership.

But WAG has continued the fight to prevent the Harpenden Town Council scheme to build affordable housing on the allotment site and the issue of access has been a key one.

In the complaint to the LGO, Carol Hedges of WAG, questions the “validity and legality” of the decision in the wake of seeing an email from one of the councillors which, the group maintains, not only demonstrates a pre-determined mindset and conflict of interest but also could invalidate the cabinet decision of July last year.

She then asks the LGO to investigate whether, if that is the case, the previous decision to refuse access to the land still stands.

Mrs Hedges said this week: “We are disgusted at the way local people have just been ridden roughshod over by this current cabinet and this particular councillor.

“There is a complete lack of accountability and transparency.”

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