The future of a publicly-owned flat was again discussed behind closed doors at two town council meetings this week.

Despite objections from the Chronicle, calling for the discussions to be held in public, the council’s corporate property commitee met to discuss the flat after excluding members of the public and press.

A full town council meeting then followed, again without the public or press being allowed to hear discussions about the future of the flat.

Previously, when the town council discussed renting out the flat, 6A Duke Street, Dart­mouth, in 2013 and 2014, it was discussed in open council. 

But the council said it would be discussed behind closed doors this year, saying councillors would be discussing issues about the previous/ and/or additional tenants/ leaseholders or financial matters.

However, the town council let the Chronicle into the flat this week for the first time since the recent tenants left in April – after being there almost four years.

Our reporter Charley Adams said: “I was invited into the flat by the town council on Monday, and upon entry it was evident there was a smell of ammonia, which, the council claimed, was the result of cats urinating on the floor. On the bottom floor of the flat, the carpet had been pulled up due to the smell and damp and on the floor boards were three distinct wet patches.

“Apart from this and some small areas of wear and tear, the flat appeared to be in good condition.

“In a great location, the spacious four-bedroom flat had wonderful views, especially from an upstairs bedroom looking over the Boatfloat.

“I was also shown images and a video taken by the council after the eviction of the tenants.

“The video, taken on June 8, which readers can watch on the Chronicle’s website, shows how damp the floorboards were as someone puts their foot in the wet patch and moves the stain around.”

A council spokesman said: “What you cannot see from these photographs was how the flat stank of ammonia and we had to have the windows and the door open to try to air it.

“The flat now has a hint of ammonia still but it is nowhere near as bad as it was.”

The town council went to inspect the flat with an officer from South Hams District Council after the tenants had moved out in mid-April.

On April 25, the sodden carpet was pulled up and then the town council returned on June 8 to see if the damp patches had dried out.

A Freedom of Information request by the Chronicle has revealed the four-bedroom flat was in good condition at the time the council decided it wanted to evict the tenants in November last year – despite claims by former mayor Cllr Richard Cooke that the reason the council decided to evict them was the “appalling state” of the flat when they left.

The flat, above the museum, was rented to tenants from Townstal through South Hams District Council’s Direct Lets Scheme in July 2014, after the town council had spent almost £75,000 doing it up.

On November 15 last year, the town council’s corporate property committee decided it wanted to take back possession of the flat and give the tenants three months’ notice to quit, from January 1.

Despite requests to the town council to let us know the outcome of Tuesday’s meetings, the council had not responded by the time we went to press.

It had previously said it was looking at letting the museum use part of the flat and the council itself would use other parts for storage