Mayor's 'no' to inquiry
CALLS for an inquiry into the rent dispute over Torquay's Hi-Flyer balloon have been dismissed by mayor Gordon Oliver.
He said the public and councillors would have to wait to find out the full details because of an ongoing legal wrangle.
He made the comments at a full council meeting at which Labour councillor Darren Cowell put forward a motion asking for an inquiry into the £50,000 of alleged unpaid rent. Before the meeting a small number of protesters gathered outside with red balloons supporting calls for an inquiry carried out by a senior council officer.
But they left the meeting disappointed after the mayor's rejection.
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The mayor said he had inherited the problem from the previous administration but was getting on with the job of resolving it.
He added: "There's an ongoing dispute and legal advice has been given to the authority and while there is an ongoing dispute I don't comment about that aspect. We have not indicated anywhere that debt has been written off, I want to make that categorically clear.
"I don't see any need for an inquiry. When the time comes we'll be open and transparent about what happened but not yet."
The balloon was destroyed in gales in January. It emerged after a Freedom of Information request by two members of the public that operator Lindstrand had allegedly not paid any rent for several years. A legal dispute between the council and operator is ongoing.
Cllr Cowell told the mayor: "I'm very disappointed we can't have a straightforward investigation by a senior officer or ombudsman."
In an online poll at our website www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk, 90 per cent of those voting say an inquiry is needed.