Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent council worker sacked over farm issue

A council which has withdrawn the tender to run a farm has sacked a worker over a "very serious offence".

Friday was the deadline for expressions of interest over the Stoke-on-Trent council-run City Farm at Bucknall Park.

But the council said complications had come to light regarding the use and ownership of land the farm is on and further legal investigation was needed.

A male council worker who was not a permanent member of staff did not do enough checking, the authority claimed.

The farm has been facing closure as the authority looks at ways to save money.

'Good faith'

In January the council invited people to manage and operate the farm.

Councillor Sarah Hill, cabinet member for transformation, said: "When we put this bid out earlier in January, it was put out in good faith to seek people's interest in running the City Farm.

"But it's since come to our attention that there's a problem about part of the land there.

"The legal advice is we're not wholly sure whether we own that piece of land or not.

"Until we've absolutely clarified that point, which we can't do until next week, we felt it was better to withdraw the tender until we're absolutely clear about that."

The Labour councillor said the mix-up was not "our finest moment".

She added: "I would ask the registered interested parties to be patient, bear with us, and we will be in touch in the near future to continue the procurement process on the concession."

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