Watchdog happy with Exmouth Elizabeth Hall sale
EAST Devon District Council has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the bidding process for the controversial sale of the Elizabeth Hall site on Exmouth seafront.
Planning permission for a 60-bed Premier Inn at the site of the community hall was granted in June, and it has now been demolished.
The firm has confirmed the hotel is due to open in the autumn of 2014 “as per its original timetable”.
The sale of the site was hugely contentious with residents setting up the Friends of the Elizabeth Hall, as a way of campaigning to save it from demolition. A petition against the sell-off organised by the group drew 12,000 signatures.
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Now, a Local Government Ombudsman has announced that “there is no evidence of fault in the tender process used” by the council following a complaint made to the ombusdman by the Friends group, which was one of the bidders in the tender process.
Three specific complaints were investigated and all three were found in favour of the council.
The ombudsman found there was no evidence to support the complainant’s claim that a member of the selection panel had indicated a preference before the tender process was complete.
Secondly, the ombudsman could find no fault by the council in relation to the publication of information on its website. Finally the ombudsman rejected the view that the council disadvantaged the complainant’s bid after the complainant considered there to be a conflict of interest.
Jilly Green, chairman of the Friends group, said: “We felt that the whole process was geared in favour of a developer building a hotel.”