RESIDENTS have criticised plans by Selby District Council to buy land near a village in the district.

Plans to buy 482 acres of land at Burn Airfield from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will be discussed at a meeting of the council executive on Thursday, only months after the council’s controversial plans to build a gipsy and traveller site there were rejected by the authority.

A report submitted to the executive said the site was bought by Yorkshire Forward (now the HCA) in 2003 for £2,694,000. Last year, the site had an estimated value of £2.3m, but the report acknowledged the council could not afford to buy it.

It said: “The council does not have sufficient cash resources to purchase the site and therefore will need to take out prudential borrowing in full or part depending on the ultimate value negotiated.”

Burn resident Graham Rawlings, a member of Burn Against New Site (BANS), the campaign group which was founded to oppose a new traveller site, claimed the council’s suggestion to borrow money was questionable in the current financial climate.

He said: “There seems no clear purpose at present to the council in purchasing the land. We question if this is a good use of public money when it is very tight and probably getting tighter.”

Mr Rawlings also said the purchase of the land may lead to improvements for the area, but these would come with developments which the village would not welcome.

He said: “BANS is slightly nervous about what the council might have in mind. The parish council are keen to get a bypass for Burn but we think the price – something not to Burn’s advantage on the airfield – might be too high.

“BANS had a meeting on December 16 and we would prefer the gliding club and the agricultural tenants to buy the site, but we are not sure if all the tenants want to purchase their tenancy and in any case the HCA prefer to sell the whole site in one, not parts of it in a piecemeal fashion.”