Cabinet criticised over mystery of Assembly Rooms ‘sale’

BOSTON’S historic Assembly Rooms has been sold subject to contracts being sorted, but councillors are keeping the details under wraps.

Press and public were excluded from the Boston Borough Council cabinet agenda item on Wednesday on the grounds that the discussion involved the likely disclosure of exempt information.

Following the meeting a council spokesman said no details of the discussion would be released due to ‘commercially sensitive’ information.

However, council leader Peter Bedford told the Standard the building, which had been available for £445,000, had been sold, subject to contract.

He said no further details regarding who had bought the building or the type of business the new owners operate would be released for now.

He said: “There’s all sorts of planning to go through so it could be a while yet before anything is released.”

Coun Bedford confirmed the cabinet took the decision rather than the full council due to ‘urgency’.

This means they will not allow councillors to force it to be revisited by ‘calling it in’.

This announcement drew fire from Labour councillors who accused the authority of holding non-cabinet members in contempt and rendering democracy ‘meaningless’.

Coun Paul Kenny said: “The Labour Group is extremely disappointed that the Conservative administration of Boston Borough Council have taken an extremely unusual position by not allowing any members of the council who are not on cabinet to debate item eight on the cabinet agenda.

“This just demonstrates the contempt they have for members who do not sit on the cabinet.

“This item is an important item and needs to be properly scrutinised to make sure that we continue to deliver key services in our community.”

He added: “This shows that democracy is meaningless to this Conservative Group on Boston Borough Council and why don’t the general public have the right to know the decisions that are being made in their name?.

“It is just a shameful way to act.”

Coun Bedford rebutted Mr Kenny’s claim, saying the original decision to sell the Assembly Rooms, made in cabinet in December 2006, had included Mr Kenny and had also excluded press and public.

He added: “Councillor Kenny, the Labour group leader, gets a copy of the cabinet agenda and he could have come to cabinet and he would have been given a chance to speak.”

He noted two councillors, Couns Brian Rush and Alison Austin, had both been present but had not said anything.

“He had the option the same as any other councillor who was on this authority,” said Coun Bedford.