The leader of Bromley Council says he “couldn’t care less” about revealing the cost of the Bullers Wood School planning saga – it’s legal advice holding him back.

Proposals for the new boys’ school at St Hughes’ playing field in Bickley Road, Chislehurst, were approved in 2017 before a controversial backtrack in January last year after traffic concerns were raised.

The council’s refusal was taken to the planning inspectorate and it was forced to defend its decision, at a cost of at least £50k.

Bromley Council had no objections to the use of the site, but suggested it was the safety issues – particularly in Chislehurst and Bickley Roads – that made the plans unacceptable.

The unsuccessful attempt to convince the inspector cost taxpayers at least £49,825, which was spent on external transport consultants.

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A confidentiality clause with lawyers – which the council says they got at a discounted rate – means the full spend won’t be revealed any time soon.

At a meeting last night, the council leader Colin Smith was pressed by the opposition on why a confidentiality agreement was signed in the first place.

He said: “The council’s legal team advised that the council were offered discounted rates that are not routinely available. As a consequence, the counsel has refused to waive commercial confidentiality.

“It would be foolhardy to breach this, as irrespective of other consequences and the risk of reputational damage, as it may mean that the council would not be able to attract beneficial rates in the future.

“There is a legal confidentiality clause between the lawyer and client.”

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Labour leader Angela Wilkins said that as elected members of the council, all councillors were entitled to know how much was spent on the planning saga.

Responding to why the council can't give a figure, the council leader said a legal obligation meant the figure has to be kept private. 

Cllr Smith replied: “It comes to a point where I frankly couldn’t care less whether it is revealed or not. As a council, we are the client of the solicitor and as such shares a legal relationship.

“The counsel does not want their fee discussed – that is the end of the matter as I am advised in law.

“I can’t reveal something I am told legally I can’t.”

Parents campaigned under the umbrella Say Yes To Bullers Wood to the praise of some councillors and local MP Bob Neill.