A SENIOR politician has demanded an investigation into Basildon Council’s sale of land earmarked for a hotel for £1... having bought it for £1m two years earlier.

During talks in Parliament, Baroness Smith of Basildon raised concerns over whether the Government had plans to appoint auditors to investigate the controversial sale of the land - south of Basildon Golf Club - by Basildon Council.

However Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, a Conservative life peer, responded to quash her calls.

He told the chamber: “There are no plans to appoint auditors to investigate the sale.

“Local authorities have a duty to manage their housing stock and have the statutory power to dispose of properties and land.

“They also have a fiduciary duty to their council tax payers.”

Kerry Smith, deputy leader of Basildon Council, was outraged at the Government’s relaxed attitude on the matter.

He said: “There needs to be an independent examination into the site which was never conducted under Conservatives.

“This is tax payers’ money.

“Myself and [Basildon Council leader] Gavin Callaghan did everything we could to stop it and protect the tax payer.”

Lady Smith pushed further on the matter, querying whether Basildon Council had sought advice from ministers or officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about the sale of council-owned land at a price below market value, and a lower price than had previously been agreed with the vendor without reopening the offer of sale to previous bidders.

Lord Bourne, responded by saying: “Basildon Council are not required to and have not sought advice from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government regarding the sale of general council owned land.

“However the council did submit an application under section 25 of the Local Government Act 1988 in respect of housing land at Buckingham Green.

“The application was approved on April 4 2018 in favour of the disposal to Swan Housing Association Limited, with the council maintaining nomination rights over new homes delivered.”