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17th Jan, 2022

War of words over key Redditch wards as borough election poll nears

Ross Crawford 26th Apr, 2019 Updated: 26th Apr, 2019

HOUSING Minister James Brokenshire was in Redditch this week as the local elections crystalised around redevelopment plans for Winyates and Matchborough centres.

His visit, to Winyates centre, came as both Labour and Conservatives accused each other of playing politics with the future of the two districts.

The official line passed by the borough council’s ruling Conservative group earlier this month was that ‘nothing has been decided’ after four developers responded positively to revamping the two centres with some preferring to replace them with one single centre and others preferring two.

Public consultation was due to start early in the new year.

However with Labour campaigning to retain two separate centres and a local petition calling for just that garnering 500 signatures, local Conservatives, as a result of a social media campaign they said, also moved in behind the two centres option, prompting accusations of making policy on the hoof from Labour.

“Redditch Conservatives look to have been panicked into trying to rewrite council policy over their plans for the district centres,” said Redditch Labour group leader Councillor Bill Hartnett.

“At the March 26 Council Executive meeting, which is led and controlled by the Conservatives, policy was adopted to continue to look at options for the centres including a ‘one centre’ option. This subsequently became council policy at the full Council meeting on April 15.”

Council leader Coun Matt Dormer said: “We are committed 100 per cent to the people of Matchborough and Winyates and to retaining two centres, if the data supports it, which I believe it will.

“Things are still in their infancy; consultation at the moment is just with a few organisations like RSA Arrow Vale and the county council and this will gradually widen out to include members of the public.

“And I am prepared to support two centres if that is the will of the people – it’s not a problem, nothing is a problem.

“In fact I’d prefer it if we kept two centres because, from a selfish point of view, the more commercial property we end up with the better it is for the council as we make more money.”

The local elections on May 2 are being contested across the borough. Also taking part are The Green Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.

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