THE friends of a Colne park have called on Pendle Council not to sell off part of the park to the boss of a development firm.

Tim Webber, chairman and managing director of Barnfield Construction, wants to purchase a two hectare site of Ball Grove Country Park, with the council valuing the land at around £50,000.

But Mr Webber, who lives near the site, said he only wanted to improve the area for the benefit of everybody who uses it.

Volunteers from the Friends of Ball Grove said they feared the land could one day be developed as housing if it was sold off.

Jerry Stanford, secretary of the group, said they had in the past been a benefactor of Mr Webber and had no reason to doubt his intentions, but were concerned at the long term impacts of any sale.

“The temptation to follow this route is obvious in the current economic climate,” he said.

“Nevertheless the view of the group is firmly that such action will be a hostage to fortune in the long term with the possibility of the descendants of the purchaser being able to overturn covenants, as has happened in this area in the past, and in a different political climate being able to develop in green space.”

Mr Webber said: “I am happy to go along with any measures the council want to put in place to protect the land from development, as that is not my intention at all.

“There is a public footpath there and I don’t intend to change that. I want to work with the friends group to improve this land for the benefit of all of us, and I’m happy to have regular meetings with the group to discuss how to do that.”

Coun Tony Greaves said: “I have a high opinion of Tim Webber and Barnfield, but there are people in Pendle who think Barnfield and the council are far too close.

“Mr Webber lives in this town and is passionate about the area and has a genuine feeling for Colne.

“I understand where the council is coming from but I think we need a greater understanding of what is being proposed.”

Coun Paul White said that a portion of any revenue from the sale of the land should be invested back in to the park to help it retain its Green Flag status.

The issue will be discussed again at Pendle Council’s next executive meeting, with councillors in Colne recommending further discussions take place between the council and Mr Webber before any deal is agreed.