June 18 2013 Latest news:
by DAN GRIMMER
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Questions over a multi-million pound by Norfolk County Council to buy the former air base at RAF Coltishall will be asked at a council meeting today.
The ruling Conservative cabinet has agreed in principle to purchase RAF Coltishall after the Ministry of Justice picked the county council as its preferred bidder for the 600 acre-site.
The authority, which has not revealed how much it plans to pay for the base, has indicated it would like the majority of the land to be used for agriculture, with its own tenant farmers leasing land.
It added that former air force buildings could be converted into about 65 homes, while other buildings, such as refurbished hangars, could be offered to small or medium-sized businesses to buy or rent.
But with no masterplan drawn up yet, the opposition Liberal Democrat group at County Hall say there are too many question marks hanging over such a major investment of public funds.
They have ‘called in’ the decision to be looked at by the council’s cabinet scrutiny committee today and want the Conservatives to show exactly what they intend to do at Coltishall.
Mike Brindle, Liberal Democrat group leader said: “It baffles me that the council can proceed with what is a substantial investment with no business plan.
“While we are fully supportive of the concept of redeveloping the former RAF Coltishall site, we know there are private bidders who have consulted with local residents as to their plans for the site, we do not think it is too much of the council to do the same and declare their plans for the site before they proceed with spending a large amount of Norfolk tax-payers’ money.”
Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for efficiency, who is expected to answer questions at today’s meeting said it was too soon for a detailed business plan to have been drawn up and said there was no secret about the council’s proposals for the base.
He added: “All we have done so far is set out a high level outline for possible uses for the site and as we have said, we want to hear people’s views on those and any others through the proposed new liaison group.
“Given that we do not own the site, and will not do so for some time yet, it would have been premature to produce a detailed business case for the entire site prior to any discussions with interested parties taking place. We have made no secret of our intentions.”
See the EDP and Evening News websites today to find out what gets said at the meeting and see tomorrow’s papers for a full report.