18th Sep, 2019

As elections loom, war of words over future of Redditch town centre

Ross Crawford 25th Feb, 2018

A WAR of words has broken out between Redditch’s Labour and Conservative councillors over plans for the regeneration of the town centre.

The Tories have accused the ruling group of ‘re-hashing a year-old £5m funding announcement for town centre regeneration’ and dithering over their proposals.

However authority Leader Councillor Bill Hartnett said the money had been earmarked as part of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and there were numerous procedures to go through before any development could go forward.

“It’s been explained several times to the Tories about the GBSLEP fund that we need to get the case made and the proposals developed before it gets approval,” he said.

“The proposals are there, on paper, and Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority came down and saw them, and I included the leader of the local Conservative group in that meeting too.

“This is not a small plan but a major one and it is now going forward into the public arena and will be discussed next month at the March executive meeting,” said Coun Hartnett.

Councillor Juliet Brunner, group leader for the Conservatives, said: “This £5m was part of a £17.5m package that was put together by the Conservative government into the local enterprise partnerships to invest in the local economy.

“To get the money we need to submit a business case that provides details about what we’re going to spend the money on.

“When I pressed officers at the council to tell me when we would be ready to submit the business case all I was told was ‘some point before the end of 2018’. That’s not ambitious.

“Re-hashing old stories about money they haven’t secured yet shows how desperate Labour have become to look like they’re doing something about our town centre when there is a local election in a couple of months, when in reality they’ve done very little over six years.”

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