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Row could lead to scrapping of council papers
2:20pm Tuesday 9th October 2012 in News
BROMSGROVE District Council’s leader Roger Hollingworth says he is now considering scrapping pink papers - documents revealing confidential information to councillors of all parties - following the latest dispute with Labour councillors.
The leader says he had been thinking about the move for a while, but he claimed a threat by opposition councillors to reveal commercially sensitive information to the press and public had been the last straw.
A month ago, the Advertiser revealed a preferred bidder had been identified by the council to take on the former Market Hall site, off St John Street, following a formal bidding process.
The deal is understood to be near completion, but ahead of an official announcement the council is yet to reveal the name of the bidder, though the council has hinted it is in negotiations with a national food store.
Details of the negotiations have been revealed to councillors, including opposition members on pink papers.
But Coun Hollingworth says he was told Labour councillors had threatened to leak the name of the potential buyer of the 1.78-acre Market Hall site to the press, at a time when the negotiations are at a critical stage.
The leader said the threat was the last straw, and he was now asking officers to look into the introduction of purple papers - where confidential information would only be revealed to cabinet members.
“We don’t want to put deals like this in jeopardy,” the leader said.
“Once commercially confidential information is leaked, the ramifications can be very damaging.
“Revealing information on pink papers has been going on for years.
“I would say a move towards purple papers is not damaging democracy, it is protecting ongoing negotiations.”
Deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, Councillor Chris Bloore, described any move towards scrapping of pink papers as “disgraceful”.
He said: “This is a move to being more secretive, having a small group - a clique - making decisions on privileged information.
“The representatives of the people would not be able to see the papers.
“It can only be a bad thing.”
Coun Bloore added he knew nothing about the Market Hall bidder issue, so could not comment.
A change from pink to purple papers would require a change in the council’s constitution, and a vote of all councillors.