Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Buy the Land Befor This Lot Do - Cops; Police Claim Family Will Use Land forcrimesMcKAY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Buy the Land Befor This Lot Do - Cops; Police Claim Family Will Use Land forcrimesMcKAY

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL McKAY

POLITICAL concerns could scupper police plans to buy a plot of land to prevent a well-known family from taking it over.

Durham Police Chief Constable Jon Stoddart wants to buy a field known as Italby Paddock in Burnhope, near Lanchester, to prevent it falling into the hands of the Wright family.

He suggested if the police did not buy the land - thought to be worth pounds 45,000 - then Durham County Council could do so.

But copies of a report reveal many members of the police authority have strong reservations about the proposal.

The report says: "During a lengthy debate in the Police Authority meeting, members were generally supportive of the proposal (indeed some were strongly in favour) but concern was expressed by a number of members who felt they had not been provided with a sufficiently reasoned case for the proposed purchase and that the Police Authority could be challenged by way of judicial review if it is agreed to purchase.

"There was particular concern about the proposed use of the land as these discussions are at an early stage and could not therefore legitimately constitute a reason for the purpose.

"One member articulated the reason, as he understood it, to be that the Police Authority would be purchasing the land purely as a 'spoiler' to prevent the Wright family and its criminal associates from buying it themselves and on the assumption that if they did so, it would further their criminal activities to the detriment of the local community."

Father-of-seven Alan Wright, 46, a builder, who claims family members are being unfairly targeted by police, said: "It is an absolute disgrace that police are prepared to use taxpayers' money to buy a plot of land simply to stop us from getting hold of it."

Police authority members agreed to hold talks with the county council with a proposal they buy it rather than the police.

But the council is currently facing cut-backs which has forced them into closing homes, leisure centres and subsidies to bus routes, as well as shedding hundreds of jobs.

Independent county councillor John Shuttleworth said: "I simply do not believe that shelling out council money to buy a plot of land without a very good reason indeed would be appropriate during these days of financial constraints. …

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