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Labour Councillors demand debate must be in secret

“What are they trying to cover up, what are they hiding from Luton residents?

Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr David Franks

The arguments on Luton Council over the decision to refuse the football club a lease on land at Cutenhoe Road continued in secret at a meeting of the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Board on Monday (8th February). Liberal Democrat Councillors proposed that the discussions should be in public but the Labour majority on the board squashed the move.

“If the meeting had been in public we would have proposed that lease negotiations should proceed including payment of a commercial rent; football club responsibility for maintenance of the playing field; a free of charge shared use agreement with the local schools and the Council’s right to take the land back for educational use with 12 months notice,” says Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. David Franks.

“The Town Hall lawyers agreed with us, there was no legal reason to justify the final recommendation being decided in secret but Labour used their majority to make the whole meeting secret.”

“What are they trying to cover up, what are they hiding from Luton residents? They are so determined to keep the issue under a cloak of secrecy there must be something they don’t want people to know. Taxpayers are entitled to know what their Council is doing with their money and their assets and why.”


“The decision to say no is hard to justify so it is only reasonable to give the Labour Council a chance to reconsider.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr David Franks

Liberal Democrat councillors have exercised a rarely used standing order to force a reconsideration of Luton Council’s decision to refuse Luton Town Football Club’s request for a lease on playing fields at Cutenhoe Road to expand the Club’s youth academy activities. The Club had already promised they would be happy for any lease agreement to include unrestricted use of the playing fields by local schools, to accept full responsibility for maintenance of the pitches and said they would pay a commercial rent.

“The decision to say no is hard to justify so it is only reasonable to give the Labour Council a chance to reconsider,” says Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. David Franks.

“Having discussed the situation with my colleagues I have to say we are all mystified. No reason for the decision has been given, at least not publically and since the football club offer would benefit local schools, benefit young people interested in a football career, benefit the club itself of course and would produce some income for the Council it is really hard to work out why they would say no.”

The decision now has to be referred to the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Board who will review it. The Board does not have the power to change the decision but can refer it back to the Executive Committee for reconsideration or onwards to a meeting of the Full Council with or without a recommendation.


“……..the Council needs to come up with a really good explanation of what they are doing and why.”

– Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, Councillor David Franks.

Liberal Democrat councillors say the Council decision to refuse to allow Luton Town Football Club to lease the Cutenhoe Road playing fields is illogical and makes no sense educationally or financially.

Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition on the Council, David Franks comments “The Club has offered to allow free use of the sports fields by the local schools, to pay for the maintenance of the pitches and to pay a commercial rent. Where’s the logic in saying no?”

“At a time when Luton Council is covering open green spaces with concrete all over the town here’s an opportunity to give the football club the chance to improve their youth academy facilities, offer the schools the use of the playing fields with no maintenance costs and make a few bob for the hard pressed Council finances. How can you say no to that? Certainly, the Council needs to come up with a really good explanation of what they are doing and why.