Probe launched into council’s Hermitage Mill payments

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A probe is to be launched into payments made by Mansfield district Council into the re-development of Hermitage Mill.

All 34 councillors present at a recent meeting voted in favour of the council’s managing director and head of finance, property and revenue services investigating why the council picked up the three invoices last year totalling £1,728.

It includes payments to a chartered quantity surveyor, a property consultant and an architect to provide the trustees of Hermitage Mill with specialist reports.

Chad reported last month that campaigners have been working for years to restore the 200-year-old derelict Grade II-listed mill in Hermitage Lane, with hopes that it could be transformed into a modern facility with a heritage area, exhibition space, office units, corporate meeting and lecture rooms and retail units, including a restaurant.

But questions over why the council had footed the three invoices were raised by Coun Martin Lee during the recent full council meeting.

Specifically, he wanted to know why the cash had been taken from the remains of a £100,000 fund for recreation and play facilities.

Councillor Martin Lee, leader of the Labour Group at the council said: “Such expenses incurred by the trustees could never sensibly be described as payments for the construction or improvement of recreation and play facilities within Mansfield. “

Coun Lee had put the question to mayor Tony Egginton during the meeting, who said the he had worked with a senior planning officer and they agreed it was ‘appropriate’ to pay the fees out of the fund.

Coun Phil Shields, portfolio holder for the environment, welcomed the investigation, saying the council needed to be transparent on such matters, but said the money was set aside for both play areas and ‘green infrastructure’.

He said more than £82,000 from that fund had been spent on parks in the region, including Seaforth Square and Appin Road.