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Council leader denies ‘undisclosed personal connection’ to £8m golf club

PUBLISHED: 07:59 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 10 December 2018

(L-R): Cllr Harry Clarke and Cllr Pablo Dimoglou are calling on Breckland to be more open and democratic. Pictured, Elizabeth House, in Dereham. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

(L-R): Cllr Harry Clarke and Cllr Pablo Dimoglou are calling on Breckland to be more open and democratic. Pictured, Elizabeth House, in Dereham. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Archant

The leader of a council which repeatedly kept secret a decision about a multi-million pound golf club it bought has denied having an “undisclosed personal connection” with the club’s previous owners.

At a council meeting on Thursday, Breckland Council leader, William Nunn, was asked whether he would resign after discussions about the council’s future relationship with Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club were twice held in secret this autumn.

The council bought the club for £8 million in 2006, but in October repeatedly cited confidentiality as a justification for excluding the public and press from discussions on its future.

Pablo Dimoglou, district councillor for Mattishall, said that when Mr Nunn was due to rejoin as leader of the council in 2016, his recollection was that there was “serious disquiet” among senior council officers who believed Mr Nunn had an “undisclosed personal connection to the people who sold Barnham Broom to the council”.

Mr Nunn denied any personal connection with the club, and said his only interest in it was through the council’s ownership.

The Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Nunn said: “You know as well as I do at the time of the purchase I had no personal relationship with anyone at Barnham Broom - I never had and I never will.

“My personal integrity would not allow me to do anything else.”

READ MORE: Multi-million pound Barnham Broom Golf Club talks again kept under wraps by councillors

In a subsequent statement, Mr Dimoglou said he found it “absurd that it has been ruled that the Barnham Broom item could not be discussed publicly until after the next election”.

Cllr Pablo Dimoglou, right, has resigned from the Breckland Conservatives group. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesCllr Pablo Dimoglou, right, has resigned from the Breckland Conservatives group. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

He said: “In my opinion the reasons for keeping it private are very weak and certainly do not outweigh the right of 135,000 residents to know what is happening.”

Breckland council chief executive Anna Graves told Mr Dimoglou she was “disappointed” he had raised the issues in public.

Harry Clarke, deputy leader of the Labour Group, also raised concerns about the secrecy surrounding the future of Barnham Broom during the full council meeting.

Mr Clarke said: “The principle in public life should be if you have to keep something secret you shouldn’t be doing it.”

The Terrace at the Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Terrace at the Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Spa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But Mr Nunn defended the right of councils’ to keep commercial decisions confidential, and said he encouraged members to stay out of commercial policy.

“You have to have commercially sensitive conversations in private,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic failure’: Council in secret talks over future of Barnham Broom Golf Club

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