Council leader hits out at leaks and online abuse

John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The leader of Babergh District Council says he has taken legal advice about “libellous” comments against him over the controversial plans to build a hotel and develop part of Belle Vue Park in Sudbury.

Belle Vue House in Sudbury.

Belle Vue House in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

John Ward said he had also reported threats made against him to Suffolk police, and hit out at "misinformation" about the Belle Vue scheme he said was being spread on Facebook groups.

Earlier this week Mr Ward read the riot act to councillors at a meeting of Babergh council over a leak of information to opponents following a presentation to members of different scenarios for the hotel scheme.

Mr Ward said: "If it wasn't for the personal stuff - the libel and the threats - then I could live with leaking as that happens all the time.

"It's childish but it does happen, but the level of personal attacks is just getting absurd.

"There are a couple that have made libellous comments and I have consulted a solicitor.

"As to how I take that forward I'm not sure at the moment, I'm still discussing it with my solicitor.

"Threats against me have also been reported to the police. I am waiting to hear if there will be any action."

The council is drawing up a planning application for a hotel and restaurant to be built on a corner of the park currently occupied by a derelict outdoor pool.Belle Vue House, a 19th century building, would be sold for conversion into private accommodation but the council has stated its adjoining gardens that form the park would be preserved. Mr Ward warned the leaks were breaches of confidentiality that risked putting off future investors.He said: "It's so irresponsible, it really is. "Apart from the vitriol, if they see there is no commercial confidentiality because people leak all the time then they will be scared off."We've also got land around Hamilton Road which we want to redevelop but the worry for me is that anybody who is interested in investing in Sudbury will see what's going on and it will just scare them off. That's the last thing we want to see. "These people are just so wrapped up in their own particular likes and dislikes and they just cannot see the bigger picture."This week the council rejected online speculation it planned to build the hotel on part of the park near Ingrams Well Road and Cornard Road."We can categorically state that at no time have we considered locating the hotel at the corner of Ingrams Well Road and Cornard Road as suggested on social media," a spokesman said.As well as its own proposed scheme, the council has invited parties to submit alternative suggestions to regenerate Belle Vue House.

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Proposals must be submitted by November 1.

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