WILLIAM HUNTER WAY: Opposition Anger at Tory Secrecy

January 18, 2014 6:00 PM


JOINT STATEMENT FROM BRENTWOOD LIB DEMS, BRENTWOOD LABOUR, BRENTWOOD FIRST & INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR

The tense William Hunter Way meeting that the Tories wanted to stop (Cllr Julie Morrissey)

The tense William Hunter Way meeting that the Tories wanted to stop (around the table, clockwise: Russell Quirk, William Lloyd, Phil Baker, James Sapwell, Karen Chilvers, Philip Mynott, Vicky Davies, Roger Keeble, Barry Aspinell, Mike Le Surf, Graeme Clark

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.

A tense meeting with all opposition councillors represented (Barry Aspinell and Graeme Clark with Labour's Mike Le Surf and Julie Morrissey)

A tense meeting with all opposition parties represented (Barry Aspinell and Graeme Clark with Labour's Mike Le Surf and Julie Morrissey)

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we have consistently asked for alternative proposals that are right for Brentwood and not one proposal that was an out-of-date development when approved by the Conservatives in 2009 and is woefully out-of-date in 2014."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

All opposition parties were represented, in this photo: Russell Quirk, William Lloyd and Phil Baker (Brentwood First) and James Sapwell, Philip Mynottt and Vicky Davies (Liberal Democrats)

All opposition parties were represented, in this photo: Russell Quirk, William Lloyd and Phil Baker (Brentwood First) and James Sapwell, Philip Mynottt and Vicky Davies (Liberal Democrats)

secret by a council administration that claims to be "open and transparent".

Cllr Roger Keeble (Independent) said:

"Transparency is a word that is used with William Hunter Way but it seems that the windows are so misty the view is totally obscured."

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.

Listen to Cllr Graeme Clark on Phoenix FM talking about this...