“People want to know what is going on” – that is the message from an opposition councillor as the council gets set to discuss important plans for the borough behind closed doors.

Next week Bracknell Forest Council’s (BFC) executive are set to exclude the public and the press from a hearing about the works involved in turning Horseshoe Lake into a country park and what the authority’s latest plans for regenerating the town centre are.

The authority is allowed to do this because of the possible disclosure of financial information relating to organisations involved in the projects – also known as ‘commercial sensitivity’.

READ ALSO: Bracknell set for new £300m regeneration plans

But Liberal Democrats councillor Thomas Parker ridiculed the privacy of the meetings, telling the News: “I have been talking to some of the directors about this and we have been talking about scrutiny. People feel like stuff happens and they didn’t have any involvement in it – it just happens.

“The executive spent a long time coming up with this proposal (to convert Horseshoe Lake to a country park). Scrutiny committees get to see it later but at that point, it is almost already decided upon.

“It is a big issue – it does feel like people are getting shut out.

“The commercially sensitive stuff is probably about 10 per cent of the paper.

“It feels like they (the ruling Conservative administration) are using commercial sensitivity as a blanket banner to stop people getting involved.

“We should be trying to make it more open. People want to know what is going on.”

Horseshoe lake could become country park as part of revamp

“There must be a level of information that can be shared. It makes people a bit nervous that all these meetings are going on behind closed doors.

“People want to feel they are connected to the process but the way it happens at the moment means they are not.”

BFC’s Town Centre regeneration committee will meet on Monday, June 17, to discuss the most recent developments in renewing the area, while the council’s top team will come together on Tuesday, June 18, to consider a procurement plan for Horseshoe Lake.

The executive will also consider the sale of council properties at Waterside Park and Winkfield Manor, but these items are also set to be held behind closed doors.

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Conservative councillor Marc Brunel-Walker, who chairs the regeneration committee, hit back at Cllr Parker’s comments.

He told the News: “I take issue with claims we use commercial sensitivity as a blanket – that is absolutely outrageous. We take it as a measure of last resort.

“We try to hold as much as we possibly can in public – that is the first thing I look for on all the committees I am on.”

Cllr Brunel-Walker is also part of the executive where he is in charge of overseeing the council’s regeneration plans.

He added: “If you look at the last few (regeneration committee) meetings we have been able to discuss things in public, like the town centre car parking charges.

“We have tried to have meetings in public but because a lot of it is commercially sensitive information we can’t always do that.

“I personally believe in having as much in public as we possibly can.

“(Holding meetings in public) doesn’t always allow us to have that commercially astute flexibility that works so well.”

Conservative Peter Heydon echoed his colleague’s comments, telling the News there is no political involvement in private meetings.

He said: “It is not something that the members do, it is something the directors do – the decision to put things in the pink is made by officers.

“There are commercial issues that if they were in the public would put the council at risk.

“It is not to do with a political decision – it is to do with commercial sensitivity.”