COUNCILLORS were accused of "ignoring" the worries of people who want to preserve a historical landmark at a meeting last night.

Barnet Council sold off the former park keeper’s lodge in Victoria Park, Finchley, which led to outcry from protestors who had petitioned for years to keep it in public ownership.

Mary O’Connor, who spearheaded a petition to reverse the sale, submitted questions to the Finchley and Golders Green Residents Forum to clarify details about the sale.

The council is required to publish responses to any questions submitted the evening before the meeting, but did not do so for Ms O’Connor “given the complexity of the issue”.

Instead they gave her printed answers at the start of the meeting to read before giving her response or asking further questions, which sparked a heated conversation for the remainder of the meeting.

Ms O’Connor said: “You have put me on the spot by giving me these incredibly complicated answers and expecting me to make sense of them in a short amount of time.

“If you had these answers for me, why could you not have published them online yesterday so I could spend the day making sense of them ready for this meeting?”

Shimon Ryde, Conservative councillor for Childs Hill, said the complexity of the issue and the density of the questions Ms O’Connor had submitted, which involved complicated queries about ownership and law, meant verbal responses would be more appropriate.

In 2009 it was decided the lodge, which had been owned by the borough of Barnet since 1900 was surplus to council requirements and in November 2014 the council voted 32 to 31 to sell it to a private buyer.

The plans for the lodge have not been revealed yet, but rumours members of the public brought to the meeting suggested it would be an “unsightly” block of flats or car park.

Ms O’Connor and others backing her cause argued the council knew the sale was against the interest of constituents and had delayed responding to her queries so the sale would go by unquestioned.

Representatives from HB Public Law, who represent Harrow and Barnet Councils, said the sale was legal within the law because councillors are elected to speak for their constituents in these matters.

Peter Zinkin, Conservative councillor for Childs Hill, said: “What is happening here is a case of disagreement and, while you might disagree with us as many councillors did when we voted, we have made this decision carefully with informed guidance from legal experts.

“If you don’t agree with what we have done, you are perfectly welcome to vote us out in the next election. That is your right as constituents, but we have not done anything illegal or underhand.”

Over 500 people registered their opposition to the sale and Ms O’Connor insisted councillors had not made an earnest effort to acknowledge this in their decision making, as is required.

Theresa Musgrove, who blogs about the borough under the handle Broken Barnet, said: “How many voices would it take for you to listen? You gave Ms O’Connor only one month to gather signatures in March when it is cold and no one goes to the park.

“In the summer months the park is thriving and we could have got thousands more signatures. Worruld you have been democratic and listened then?”

Cllr Ryde said the objections had been considered and were key to voting discussions.

Ross Houston, councillor for West Finchley, said that most Labour councillors voted against the sale and would have rather converted the lodge into something of use to the community in public ownership.

He said: “We don’t know what will happen to the land now but we voted against the sale because we think it could have been used as temporary or affordable housing or a community centre.

“Maybe it will become something to benefit the public but most of my colleagues in Labour have their wards bordering Victoria Park and we feel our wishes and the wishes of our constituents have been ignored by the Conservatives.”

Discussions on the fate of Victoria Park lodge are set to continue in future public meetings.