A controversial plan to hand over control of Jubilee Park in Woodhall Spa has descended into farce amid confusion over whether a key vote was legal.
Parish councillors sparked anger among villagers when they agreed to remove a clause from an agreement transferring responsibility for the complex to a new charitable company.
Although the parish council will still own the park, the clause would allow councillors to retain some control over planning applications.
However, councillors went against their own chairman David Clarke at a meeting last month and voted 6-5 to ditch the clause after hearing interim directors of the new company were ready to walk away from a deal which has taken 18 months of legal wrangling to put together.
Last Thursday, the parish council announced the vote should never have taken place - because removing the clause was not on the agenda for the meeting.
Apparently, the council had sought legal advice and duly called an extraordinary meeting for tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.
The agenda included an item, clearly stating councillors would have to “re-take the decision.”
But yesterday (Tuesday), the council announced the vote would now stand, reportedly following further legal advice.
Parish clerk Amanda Bushell explained the extraordinary meeting will still go ahead with a new agenda - but without the re-vote.
Councillors will have to ‘ratify’ the decision to discuss the clause last month - but not the actual vote.
The council’s standing orders mean a new vote on removing the clause cannot take place for six months.
It would appear the way is now clear for the handover although the matter could still end up at a judicial review.
The latest developments could add to concerns among a group of residents who are against handing over the park to the new company.
Residents were incensed the interim directors’ plans include building a new health and fitness suite within the park.
They were also unhappy that Tim Peacock was allowed to take part in the debate - and vote to remove the clause - because he is an interim director of the new company.
The group is led by ex-parish councillor Daphne Robinson who, speaking before the latest development. said the process was as “clear as mud.”
Mrs Robinson had welcomed the initial announcement that the vote was invalid.
She has already secured enough backing from residents to call a parish meeting to discuss the park.
Meanwhile, the five interim directors - Emma Brealy, Julie Pole, Keith Scarborough, Justin Scarborough and Coun Peacock - have released a statement.
It says: “From the outset, it has been our intention to run Jubilee Park as a community enterprise, making our own decisions, free from parish council control.
“Our aim is to secure the future of Jubilee Park for the benefit of the local community.”
They confirm they are looking to provide a health and fitness suite, but stress the park needs new income to become “financially sustainable” as grants from ELDC are about to end.
Woodhall Spa district councillor Craig Leyland described the proposed handover as “the best deal” for the park’s future.
Coun Leyland is deputy leader of ELDC but ruled out the authority intervening in the process, He said the initial vote was ‘valid.’
The News can also reveal a rival group has withdrawn their interest in the park.