Southwark Council is causing itself “much reputational harm" by refusing to publish a key report about the regeneration of the Heygate, a senior Liberal Democrat councillor has said.
The dispute over the papers is being considered at a Tribunal hearing this week, with Southwark Council fighting a previous legal ruling that the project’s financial ‘viability’ report must be disclosed.
On Wednesday [5 February] Liberal Democrat councillor Adele Morris – the party’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Jobs and Affordable Homes – appeared as a witness at the Tribunal, arguing that the information should be released to Heygate campaigners and put on public record.
Southwark Liberal Democrats have previously said that, given the importance of the project and the high level of public interest in it, the report should be released immediately. They have also hit out at the council for spending public money trying to keep it under wraps.
Senior officers from Southwark Council and representatives from development partners Lend Lease,have also appeared at the hearing to make their case.
The Information Tribunal continues throughout this week, with a written judgement to follow on whether the original disclosure order should be upheld.
Liberal Democrat councillor for Cathedrals Ward Cllr Adele Morris said:
“I was one of five people who spoke in support of the Information Commissioner’s recommendation, explaining why planning councillors should always see the viability reports and why in this case it is also important for members of the public to see it.”
“Much has been made of the harm to Lend Lease if this ‘commercially sensitive’ information is made public, however I pointed out that much reputational harm has already been done to the council by keeping this information covered up. The more the council fights to keep it secret, the more suspicious people become.”