I was delighted today to be joined by IAN EDMONDS from Brentwood First and CLLR GRAEME CLARK representing the Liberal Democrats on Brentwood Council.
Opposition councillors on Brentwood Borough Council have jointly issued a statement alleging an 8 year cover up by the council concerning the William Hunter Way proposed development and what they see as secrecy from the Conservative administration. The full transcript of their statement is reproduced below.
Ian Edmonds and Graeme Clark
You can listen to what Ian and Graeme had to say here –
The Conservative administration declined Phoenix FM’s invitation to appear on the station to set out their position.
This is the full text of the opposition statement –
JOINT STATEMENT FROM BRENTWOOD LIB DEMS, BRENTWOOD LABOUR, BRENTWOOD FIRST & INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR
WILLIAM HUNTER WAY: Opposition Anger at Tory Secrecy
Brentwood’s opposition councillors are fuming after learning that Brentwood residents have been subjected to an eight year cover up and misled by the Tory administration over options for the William Hunter Way development.
At a joint meeting with Aquila, the company representing Waitrose, they were shown plans for a development that STILL contained a six screen cinema, retail and car parking but was far more aesthetically pleasing and removed the service road away from homes, than the only option offered so far from Stockland. The Tory administration have refused to offer any alternative to Brentwood residents and, it now transpires, have consistently failed to disclose that there were any other approaches tabled.
‘It transpires as rather a recent revelation to opposition councillors that a deal was first proposed to the Conservatives worth £6m more than the Stockland deal PLUS an annual revenue guarantee of £325,000, back in May 2013 and, when it was ignored, was then INCREASED to £6.5m in November. This was before the council were bamboozled into accepting the drastically revised Stockland deal and which is now £2.5m worse for the tax payer over 25 years thanks to the apathy of the current administration in allowing the development agreement to gather dust for the last eight years’.
“I am so, so angry” said Cllr Julie Morrissey (Labour), “I knew there was something we weren’t being told.”
Cllr Philip Mynott (Liberal Democrat) added:
“Whilst supporting a cinema, we have consistently asked for alternative proposals that are right for Brentwood and not one proposal that was an out-of-date development when approved by the Conservatives in 2009 and is woefully out-of-date in 2014.”
In the run up to the meeting, Tory Leader Cllr Louise McKinlay took to Twitter and attacked opposition councillors for daring to hold the meeting that confirmed that the offer from Aquila – including email exchanges between officers and senior Tories and meetings with senior officers – had all been kept secret by a council administration that claims to be “open and transparent”.
Opposition councillors are asking questions about why the administration are so hell-bent on completing the deal with Stockland when there have been opportunities to walk away penalty-free and go back to the drawing board to find a development that is right for our town, with some observers questioning whether there is more to this deal, and perhaps something sinister or underhand, than has been disclosed.
Cllr William Lloyd (Brentwood First) said:
“We are not necessarily saying that this is the right development, but what it does prove is that there are alternatives to the development the Tories are determined to push through.
“The opposition feel, given the extent of the inadequacy of the Stockland deal versus Aquilla, is a dereliction of the Council Leadership’s duty in, inexplicably, forcing the tax payer to accept far less.
This development will shape the future of Brentwood for decades and it is important that it is a good thing for the town. Let’s finally go back to the drawing board and do the right thing for Brentwood