The sale of Littlehampton’s last remaining campsite was agreed by councillors last night as a public debate was cut short and discussed in private.
Arun District Council’s disposal of Daisyfields, in Cornfield Close, was initially debated in front of press and a small public gallery.
But debate was moved into private session over fears Labour’s Mike Northeast revealed personal details about the current lessees.
Speaking today (Thursday, September 14), Mr Northeast said: “I thought it was quite disgraceful what they did because there was no way I was straying into the exempt report.
“Councillors were being asked to make quite an important decision last night and they didn’t know about the people that were on there, the history and the way they built it up as a business.
“They have put their own money into it sheer hard work and graft to transform it from a derelict tip site to an ongoing business.”
Independent Littlehampton town councillor Derrick Chester spoke against the sale during public question time, shortly before the debate.
He said a policy in the council’s local plan, to be examined next week, sought to protect tourism sites unless strong evidence was presented to justify a sale.
He said: “It asks all the private landowners who own visitor attractions or holiday accommodation in Arun to protect them and to keep them in existence for the health of the district’s economy.
“I find it difficult and I see it as a bit of a conflict of interest if Arun is saying that policy will apply to all the private landlords but not to yourself.”
Arun leader Gill Brown said the decision would be in the council’s position as landowner, with any future planning application to weigh up the arguments. She said: “I recognise and understand your wishes as a resident and a town councillor for a particular outcome but councillors here tonight will debate the matter later and determine what will be the best outcome for the people of Arun as a whole.”
The public debate saw the Liberal Democrats call for a decision to be delayed.
Councillor James Walsh said there had been errors in a report considered by cabinet members. He said claims there were other campsites in the Littlehampton area were ‘totally false’.
The proposal was opened for debate but quickly moved into private session after a vote was taken by chairman Jacky Pendleton.
Mr Northeast’s mention of the lessees ‘selling their own home’ to invest in the site prompted a vote to exclude press and public.
The Gazette understands the Lib Dems’ proposal was defeated and the recommendations to dispose of the site approved.
A total of four offers for the site were received.