Councillor Mark Hubbard, Leader of It’s Our County, has demanded to see the Development Agreement signed last year by Herefordshire Council, Hereford Futures and Stanhope, the developers of ESG. Said Cllr Hubbard:
“Opposition Councillors whose job it is to hold the Council to account have been kept in the dark over the biggest change to happen to Hereford since the ring road was built. The Council have hidden behind the excuse of commercial confidentiality to deny our requests to know what is being planned in the heart of Hereford city. There is now so much doubt about how the finances of this deal stack up that we need to see the agreement in detail.”
It’s Our County has asked for details of the agreement many times, in planning and scrutiny meetings and through Freedom of Information requests. Their requests have always been rejected and they have been left to guess what the Council has signed up to. Working on snippets of information gathered from various sources they believe the Cattle Market site was originally going to be sold to Stanhope for £30m, which would have paid for a new library, civic offices and much more besides. We now fear that the jewel in Herefordshire Council’s asset crown is going to be handed over for nothing just to make the finances stack up.
With the downturn in the economy It’s Our County fear the £30m sale price has been much reduced and that the Development Agreement is a poor deal for Herefordshire.
“Anyone in business knows that if a deal was possible it would have been done by now,” added Councillor Hubbard, “How long are we going to have to wait for this project to actually happen? And at what cost to the Herefordshire Council Tax payer?”