Councillor Mark Hubbard is today robustly defending his decision to blow the whistle on the worst retail development deal of the century by leaking Herefordshire Council’s “confidential” report.
Backed by his local paper, The Hereford Times, the leader of It’s Our County exposes how the council’s Cabinet are:
• Cynically abusing their powers to call the report “commercially confidential” (when it is nothing of the sort) just so they can discuss the deal in secret.
• Removing all safeguards put in place to protect Hereford’s historic town centre from collapse.
• Allowing developers to take control of a huge piece of Council owned real estate for a fraction of its original value.
• Signing up to a piecemeal development that will undermine a very resilient historic shopping core.
• Betraying the local independent traders operating in the city and opening the door for chain stores to slide across to the new development.
“They know this deal is dreadful which is why they are trying to keep it secret,” said Cllr Hubbard. “This is the worst deal possible with the worst possible timing and it will last for 250 years. The only conclusion I can come to is that small minded political vanity is driving this project, because it certainly isn’t good economics.”
Herefordshire Council Cabinet will meet today to discuss an “exempt” report (attached) which agrees 6 variations to a development agreement that will see a new retail quarter built on the site of Hereford’s old cattle market. The development has been highly controversial ever since it was first mooted a decade ago, with the biggest petition Hereford has ever known (more than 13,000 signatures) being presented to the council in 2009 asking for the scheme to be scrapped which the council then treated formally as one objection.
The campaign against the development has even spawned a brand new local political party, It’s Our County, which became the main council opposition party in the May 2011 elections within 9months of forming.
The retail development is facilitated by a private company, Hereford Futures Ltd, which was created by Herefordshire Council as an unelected local quango. Stanhope was recruited to develop the site, who in turn recruited British Land as financiers and eventual owners of the new development.
“As the economic climate has worsened, so the level of public subsidy for the project has soared and I now estimate it to be £60million, with Hereford Futures continuously “negotiating” each stage of the deal in an attempt to justify its own existence,” added Councillor Hubbard, “with administration councillors blindly agreeing without any critical analysis whatsoever. It is clearly in the public interest to finally let people know just how bad things have got,” he added.
It’s Our County is now arguing that it would be far better to delay the development, whilst the retail world finds its feet again and to give Hereford a chance to reassess what is needed. The site could easily be turned into a temporary car park for the time being – a ‘Do Nothing’ option is a valid option and is the right option in this instance.
For further information please contact
Cllr Mark Hubbard : 01432 272684 / 07753 397260
Pick a Link:
What has been said about the Edgar Street Grid / Old Livestock Market development over the years:
2004 / 2020 vision Lecture www.herefordcivicsociety.org.uk/magazinepdfs/July07.pdf
2006 / Future Vision http://www.rra-architecture.co.uk/old_site/futurevision/index.html
2007 / Question TIme What has it mastered what has it missed http://youtu.be/-FvIkzr2ZmM
2008 / Question Time 'A city Divided'
2009 / Report slams ESG project as "fatally flawed and totally unsuited to regeneration of Hereford" http://www.herefordcivicsociety.org.uk/news/index.php?id=1878791409853740078
2010 / Hi-Ad http://oldcattlemarket.tumblr.com/