The leader of the Conservative Group on Lewes District Council has defended his attempts to help Seaford Constitutional Club.
Cllr Rob Blackman explained he was hoping a private developer or housing association would build homes on the site in Crouch Lane and a new clubhouse for the club, ensuring its future.
Last week the district council Liberal Democrat Group attacked the leader for shoring up the club, which it said had affiliations with the Conservative Party, ahead of a district council leadership vote.
But Cllr Blackman said the idea was to use spare land on the site to create housing in Seaford, which would include affordable housing, while maintaining the club, which was in financial difficulty.
However it became apparent that there had been a constitutional link between the Con Club and the Conservative Party.
At that point he said they stopped considering a partnership between the district council and the Con Club.
Cllr Blackman said since then they had been looking to see if either a commercial developer or a housing trust could manage this project.
He stressed no agreement had been entered into and nothing had been signed, adding the Con Club in Seaford was just like dozens of others up and down the country, having once been an integral part of the local Conservative party.
He said nowadays the Con Club was nothing to do with the Conservative Party, proved by the fact no donations had been made to the Conservative Party by the Seaford Con Club for at least 15 years.
He said The Con Club took down signs it put up which said it was working with the council to provide a new club and issued a statement to members.
Cllr Blackman said, “I asked Cllr James Page, the then Conservative district council leader, to meet with the Con Club’s organisers and we quickly agreed to pursue it.
I still think that saving a community asset (anyone can hire it) and getting 30 additional housing units at the same time has got to be a good thing in anyone’s books.
“I will still do my level best to make this scheme happen but of course I will continue to take the advice that I receive from officers. There is no disagreement that we would need to do this.”
The district council has written to the club saying “it is inappropriate for the district council to enter into any legal relationship which might reasonably be construed as the district council making available funding to support the club’s finances.”