No answers yet on failed leisure centre deal

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 00:15

By Martyn Smith, Local Democracy Reporter

A row over the failed sale of Dudley’s former leisure centre escalated after councillors were denied answers about an investigation into the affair.

The disposal of the Wellington Road site was announced in March for a fee of around £1.5m but the deal fell through after the council said documents it requested as part of a due diligence process were not provided in time.

Labour’s finance spokesman, Cllr Shaukat Ali, insisted a report into why the deal was announced before it was finalised should be prepared for the council’s Audit and Standards Committee.

But at the committee’s meeting on July 8, Cllr Ali’s request for an update on the progress of the report failed to deliver the answers he wanted.

He said: “I have asked for that whole process to be investigated by our internal auditors, it is not clear where that process is and what is the timescale?”

The council’s monitoring officer, Mohammed Farooq, said: “I don’t want to say too much, I do have information but I don’t think it is appropriate to comment at this stage.

“Work has been going on and has been since the request was made, a lot of work has been done and there is more to be done.”

Cllr Judy Foster pressed Mr Farooq on when the committee would get the report but also drew a blank.

Mr Farooq said: “I’m not in a position to provide a timeline, because of the nature of the work being done it would not be appropriate.

“I hope by the next meeting there should be an update.”

Cllr Tony Creed was not impressed, he told Mr  Farooq: “I don’t think your hope is good enough.”  

Cllr Ali told the meeting there were lessons to be learned as the council would have other deals in the pipeline.

The deal was announced by council leader, Cllr Patrick Harley, after Stourbridge businessman Amarjit Dhanda agreed in principle to buy the site for housing.

Mr Dhanda has said the council’s claim he failed to provide documents in time was false and has called for an investigation into the council’s conduct.


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