A BID to sell off council-owned farming land has been slammed as a blow to shoppers’ desire for locally produced food.

Buckinghamshire County Council is to sell off land in the Chalfont St Giles, Gerrards Cross, Iver and Denham area.

But Councillor Wendy Mallen said: “The national will seems to be for supermarkets who rule the world to buy more locally.”

She said: “It doesn’t seem to be mirroring what is going on in the agricultural world.

“There are more agricultural students at agricultural college for many years and these people need to go somewhere.”

Cllr Mallen told a meeting today: “People want fresher food rather than stuff that has been in an aeroplane for thousands of miles.”

Yet Cllr Frank Downes, responsible for BCC’s finances, said people were not moving onto the land, acquiring skills and moving on, aiding the industry.

And he said: “We have no mandate at all at the county council for training farmers.”

He said: “It is difficult to justify keeping land in the hope someone will come along and use it for Tesco sausages.”

Cllr Downes said: “We are not flogging our land off and making as much money as possible.”

He was backed by Cllr Trevor Egleton, who said: “Farming is not a core activity of the county council, which is what we need to be focussing on.”

Yet Cllr Niknam Hussain said there was a ‘conflict’ in BCC’s ‘corporate property strategy’ as it wanted to serve the public and sell the land.

The council wants to sell The Denham Estate, to the south west of Denham by the A40 and M40.

It also is looking to sell The Green Belt Estate in Chalfont St Giles, Gerrards Cross and Iver. It said the majority of those was not needed.

The debate took place at today’s overview and scrutiny commissioning committee.