Housing sale probe backed

Coun Liz Oades
Coun Liz Oades
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AN investigation into the controversial sale of a Fylde coast housing estate is to be carried out.

The decision to scrutinise the process used in the sale of 20 bungalows which make up Melton Grove in Lytham was approved at a special meeting – originally called to ensure the sale was handled correctly and transparently.

But last night’s meeting, organised by opposition councillors, came too late to halt local developer Windmill Group’s purchase of the site, which went through on Friday.

Instead leader of the opposition, Coun Liz Oades, called for the process used in the sale of Melton Grove properties to be scrutinised by the overview and scrutiny committee.

At the meeting, held in the United Reform Church, St George’s Road, St Annes, Coun Oades demanded a full investigation with ‘outside help’ if required.

She said: “Since the March meeting a great deal of information has been made available regarding the disposition and while I’m sure everything has been done legally, I’m most unhappy about the lack of transparency.

“We have an overriding duty to the people we serve to reassure them the council has acted responsibly.”

Backing calls for an investigation, Fylde West councillor, Paul Hayhurst, questioned why the sale of the site was not stalled for one working day.

He said: “There are so many things that need looking at here – it has got to be scrutinised.

“But isn’t it sad this sale was not held by one working day by those people who could have done it - instead it was rushed through to get it done before tonight.”

The estate was officially owned on the council’s behalf by Clifton (Lytham) Housing Association, a company with a board made up of councillors and former councillors.

Residents who make up Melton Grove’s Residents’ Association have raised fears the estate will be developed.

Fylde councillor Kiran Mulholland said he was ‘pleased’ the process would be scrutinised and felt ‘dirty’ at being associated with any suspicious dealings.

At last night’s meeting, leader of the council, David Eaves, said he fully supported the decision to send the matter to scrutiny.

He said: “Through scrutiny I’m sure the report will provide all the answers the members of this council need to understand the process which led up to this sale.”