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“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.

“Pathetic and predictable” – Liberal Democrat response to the Council Standards Committee judgement on the three Labour Councillors who attended a mass tea party during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“You don’t stop being a Councillor for an hour or two when you choose to do something naughty, you still have a responsibility to behave yourself. When you put yourself up for a position where you will attract attention you have an additional duty not to set a bad example.

As for the recommendation that they should make a charitable donation equivalent to one month’s allowance, that comes to £450 after NI and income tax has been deducted, hardly enough to cause serious hardship. It’s also interesting the Committee didn’t recommend they resign their Council seats. That’s what they should do.

Let us not forget they have still not been suspended from the local Labour Party nor from the Labour Group of Councillors so we must assume the Labour Party thinks their behaviour is acceptable. Well 6,000 people who signed the petition don’t agree.”