THE Conservative leadership of BCP Council has been accused of being “economical with the truth” after government correspondence suggested the beach hut sell-off project would be blocked several weeks ago.

Poole People councillor Andy Hadley said the Tory administration had demonstrated “shocking behaviour” in relation to the plan to sell thousands of huts to a wholly or majority owned council company.

The special purpose vehicle arrangement was torpedoed by levelling-up secretary Greg Clark MP in the past week.

As reported, letters from other ministers sent to the council suggest the Conservative council leaders knew government would not support the proposal as early as mid-June despite Cllr Drew Mellor stating publicly in recent weeks the scheme had been approved.

BCP Council has now asked for nearly £76million over the next three years to fund transformation following the failed beach hut sell-off.

Frustrated and concerned opposition councillors have hit out at a lack of transparency by Cllr Mellor and deputy leader Cllr Philip Broadhead.

Cllr Hadley told the Daily Echo: “It is clear the Conservative leadership has been economical with the truth – saying they were getting approval from government when they were written to and told it quite clearly wouldn’t.

“It is shocking behaviour frankly. The game is up.

“The real worry is all they are doing now is trying to get a loan for an even bigger sum of money.

“They should be stepping back and reviewing any discretionary expenditure and looking at how can we get transformation sorted.”

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Andy HadleyCllr Andy Hadley (Image: BCP Council)

Cllr Hadley said the transformation programme dragging on was unfair on staff and not good for morale or retaining the workforce. He described the situation as a “real mess”.

The Poole Town ward representative said in his opinion the Conservative leadership of the council had brought the local authority into disrepute and damaged its reputation nationally.

“I think the leader and deputy leader of the administration need to look very hard at themselves,” Cllr Hadley said.

“It is all part of a wider problem where the transformation programme is taking for longer and costing far more than planned and they are busy trying to create glory schemes that are not core business of councils.

“Concentrate on the bread and butter and be honest with the electorate and that does include admitting they have got things wrong.”

Christchurch Independents councillor Lesley Dedman said she questioned Cllr Mellor’s statement to the Echo, which referenced ensuring the administration was being “transparent”.

“Nothing has been transparent so far,” Cllr Dedman said. “We have been left in the dark as have the residents.

“One of the letters from government references in some circumstances a council’s governance arrangements may be in scope for review. This definitely seems appropriate as the move to change the overview and scrutiny committee structure has left this function toothless and diminished.

“When Christchurch was dragged kicking and screaming into the councils merger we were a good solvent council, living within our means and now BCP Council needs to borrow all of this money.”

Cllr Dedman said there was concerns over the head of finance possibly needing to issue a section 114 notice, which would restrict expenditure to funding statutory services.

“It is appalling we are even in a position to have that worry,” she said.

“The whole of the Conservative administration who have bought into this idea are responsible.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Lesley DedmanCllr Lesley Dedman

“We have been saying for months this is appalling, now the government has changed the rules over concerns of dodgy deals.

“The administration should all step down and I would like a return to a cross-party alliance running the council.”