Red tape means value of Estover Playing Field must stay secret

Estover Playing Field. Picture: TREVOR WATSON

Estover Playing Field. Picture: TREVOR WATSON - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council is hiding behind bureacratic red tape and is refusing to say how much it paid to buy March Estover Playing Field.

However, it has admitted to spending more on planning experts than it has on maintenance work over the past five years.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request asked when the controversial playing field became the county council’s property and how much was paid for the site.

In response the council said they acquired the land on September 29 1970 and there were no known encumbrances - conditions - attached to it for its use.

However, the council refused to say how much was paid for the land at the time arguing the information would have “an adverse effect” and needed to be kept secret for economic reasons.

The FOI also asked what the current valuation for the site, which has become a political football with various factions arguing for and against housing development on the field.

The FOI wanted to know what current valuations are for the field with and without housing potential.

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But again the county council refused to provide the information claiming it was in the public’s interest to keep that secret to “protect a legitimate economic interest”.

However, the council did provide answers to how much has been spent on the field over the past five years.

A total of £18,161.60 expenses has been incurred by the council, of that, £11,650 was paid to Savills for planning and viability consultancy, with the remaining £6,511.60 for tree works.