Councillors have demanded an investigation is launched into a claim of misinformation before making a key decision over extending the lease of Gosport Borough’s ground.
Gosport’s Liberal Democrats want executives at Portsmouth City Council – which manages Gosport council affairs – to look into the agreement with Gosport Borough Football Club.
As reported by The News, Gosport Borough FC, whose chairman is Tory Councillor Mark Hook – leader of the borough council – were given a 30-year extension of their Privett Park stadium lease at a policy and organisation meeting in September.
When asked by Councillor Peter Chegwyn if they were up-to-date with rent, then treasurer Julian Bowcher said the club owed no rent money. However, a Freedom of Information request from The News found the football club was behind in rent.
Further FOI requests have found they owed £1,355 on November 21, although they have 30 days to pay the bill once invoiced. The club have also been issued two winding-up petitions by the High Court, although both were subsequently dismissed. Cllr Chegwyn, leader of the Lib Dems in Gosport, has asked for a full investigation and believes the decision should be revoked and go back to the board.
He said: ‘We were given wrong information. No council tenant or taxpayer would be able to get away with it. ‘If I’d have known the club were behind on their rent, I would not have voted to extend their lease. I want the football club to do well but the taxpayer and the supporters have a right to know where all the money went.’
Labour leader, Councillor June Cully, has given her support to the Lib Dems and said she would have deferred the decision. Cllr Hook said Cllr Chegwyn was entitled to ask for an investigation to be carried out and insisted the executives would do a good job. Michael Lawther, Gosport council’s deputy chief executive, said: ‘Cllr Chegwyn has raised a number of matters, which I’ll look into. I’ll respond to him with the result of my enquiries as soon as possible.’