HC Deb 28 June 2001 vol 370 cc139-40W
Mr. Wyatt

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will conduct an inquiry into the sale of Nutts Farm caravan site by Swale borough council; and if he will make a statement. [1147]

Ms Keeble

It is for the local authority to decide whether and to whom to dispose of their land. Authorities should normally dispose of property for the best obtainable consideration, which is normally its market value. If a local authority wishes to accept a bid for less than the best consideration, they must obtain the consent of the Secretary of State either through a general consent or a specific consent.

I understand that Swale borough council took the decision to sell the caravan site as the result of a best value review. Under best value the authority is required to consult local people, businesses and voluntary organisations. It is, however, for the local authority to decide exactly whom to consult and how to carry out such consultations. Moreover, it will be the responsibility of elected members to weigh the different points of view revealed by consultation exercises.

If local people believe that consultations were not carried out properly, they can make representations to the auditor, who audits the best value performance plan, or the Best Value Inspection Service, which carries out inspections of the services provided by the authority.