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Swaffham councillor's motion fails to pass as he seeks correspondence over Green Britain Centre




A town councillor was unable to proceed after he demanded correspondence between local authorities regarding negotiations over a closed community building.

Swaffham's Residents4Residents town councillor Graham Edwards submitted a motion for last week's full council meeting seeking to address clarity over the Green Britain Centre .

Mr Edwards said he had been "excluded" from correspondence on the subject, as well as other town council matters such as the Abel Homes development.

The closed Green Britain Centre at Swaffham, which is under negotiation between Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council
The closed Green Britain Centre at Swaffham, which is under negotiation between Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council

The councillor said: "The exchange of emails with people from Breckland Council is something I would definitely like to see. I can be told there are emails floating about but I won't be able to see them."

Mr Edwards has previously used language such as a "cover-up", and has been subject to investigation after voicing his concerns about the state of the Green Britain Centre to the media.

In response to his proposal, Independent councillor Les Scott said he did not feel he had seen any emails he should not have seen. Mr Scott added there used to be a yellow file in the town council office which included confidential papers, and which had become digitised for councillors to access.

Swaffham Town Council did not vote on Graham Edward's proposal for more correspondence on the Green Britain Centre after he failed to get a seconder
Swaffham Town Council did not vote on Graham Edward's proposal for more correspondence on the Green Britain Centre after he failed to get a seconder

Town clerk Richard Bishop said: "I am quite happy to share them if you do not have any emails but as far as I am aware you have had a lot of stuff on the Green Britain Centre. If anything was missed off it was clearly not deliberate.

"When you get the correspondence, instead of the dribs and drabs which go back three of four times, you get it at the end of the conversation so it is done for that reason rather than being selective. We are here to serve you as councillors and we try to do that through the committees and working groups.

"I really do not think you have missed out on anything but if there is any correspondence you have any knowledge of then let me know and I will try to seek it out."

Residents4Residents councillor Ian Pilcher said the issue raised by Mr Edwards may have been magnified by using Zoom rather than meeting in person during the pandemic.

Mr Pilcher added: "I do not know exactly what is going on with the barn but others do. Councillors need to be aware of any negotiation element on behalf of the council because there are these high profile things which are going on. It's there for us to contribute.

"With Abel Homes, there comes a point where that should go to everybody and focus groups should be able to get on with their work."

Conservative councillor Colin Houghton said: "The proposal suggests there is a secret society and I do not think there is. There was a file in the office and Kerry [Furnass, town council receptionist] said hardly anyone bothered to have a look at it. No one took any notice of it."

Mr Houghton also asked Mr Edwards if the reassurance from the clerk was not sufficient for him.

Mr Edwards said: "I want to know what is going on so I can support the residents who elected me. I want to see all the correspondence between Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council over the Green Britain Centre."

There was no vote on the proposal after Mr Edwards failed to get a seconder during the meeting.

In response to this, he said: "Leave it, I will proceed in ignorance!"

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Edwards added: "I got nowhere with the non-disclosed emails but at least it's now in the public domain."

The Great Britain Centre, which closed in 2018, has been under discussion between Breckland Council, which owns the building, and a town council working group.

Both councils are in talks over the ownership of the building with an asset swap deal with Days Field being part of the negotiations.



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