Committee backs move to allocate £2million for Dorchester town centre scheme

Committee backs move to allocate £2million for Dorchester town centre scheme

Committee backs move to allocate £2million for Dorchester town centre scheme

First published in News
Last updated

A COMMITTEE of councillors has backed a set of proposals that could see a further £2million of public money allocated to Dorchester’s Charles Street scheme.

With developers Simons claiming the town centre scheme is not viable in the current economic climate, West Dorset District Council’s efficiency scrutiny committee supported a recommendation that the authority underwrite half of the ‘financial gap to viability’ up to £2.062m should it be necessary.

The move was part of a raft of recommendations that also included the authority securing the maximum amount of parking possible on the Charles Street site and agreeing to changes to the development agreement subject to a planning application being received by July this year.

The council’s director of environment Dr David Evans said that agreeing to underwrite the scheme meant that if the markets improve the authority may end up not paying out any further money.

However, he said it would help give security for the developers and help the scheme move forward, which would in turn bring economic benefits in the form of parking fares, council tax, business rates and new homes bonuses.

With Marks and Spencer and Waitrose also now signed up as anchor stores for the scheme, Dr Evans said moving the scheme forward would ensure their involvement remains.

He said: “What we are suggesting is a way forward which will help this scheme happen in the short and medium term, and for those tenants to be secure in this development, which would really boost the county town.”

Committee members raised concerns over archaeological findings and car parking during the construction phase, but after receiving reassurances from representatives of Simons, they unanimously voted the recommendations through.

There was some controversy as district councillor Alistair Chisholm, who is not a member of the committee, was denied the opportunity to address the meeting.

He said afterwards: “At a time when democratic processes in this council have been bluntly challenged I find that extraordinary.”

Coun Chisholm had spoken to the Echo last week about his concerns over more public funds being allocated to the Charles Street scheme.

He said: “That’s a lot of money.

“What about the best interests of the hard working taxpayer?”

The recommendations will now go before the council’s executive committee on February 11 before a final decision is made at full council on February 25.

Comments (6)

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5:54pm Tue 21 Jan 14

cosmick says...

Some councillors maybe loosing there seats then. Better be very carefull when looking what to cut next.
Some councillors maybe loosing there seats then. Better be very carefull when looking what to cut next. cosmick
  • Score: 2

6:56pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Is it me or is everything rubbish? says...

So, a private developer has been given up to £4 million our public money to help the development go ahead?

What if Brewery Square approached WDDC, cap in hand, to ask for some financial help as they were a bit short at the moment? Would WDDC help them?

I would like to have a loft conversion- would WDDC like to help me pay for it?

If Simons Group cannot afford to proceed, they should allow another firm to take over.

Worryingly, there is NO provision to cancel the contract with Simons Group. If WDDC did cancel the contract, they could be sued by Simons for breach of contract.

This information is confirmed at https://www.whatdoth
eyknow.com/request/s
ize_of_financial_pen
alty_if_cha#incoming
-171414

Simons Group are clearly having financial problems:

http://www.cnplus.co
.uk/news/business/si
mons-group-remains-i
n-the-red-with-pre-t
ax-loss/8657201.arti
cle#.Ut6_8dJFDyM
So, a private developer has been given up to £4 million our public money to help the development go ahead? What if Brewery Square approached WDDC, cap in hand, to ask for some financial help as they were a bit short at the moment? Would WDDC help them? I would like to have a loft conversion- would WDDC like to help me pay for it? If Simons Group cannot afford to proceed, they should allow another firm to take over. Worryingly, there is NO provision to cancel the contract with Simons Group. If WDDC did cancel the contract, they could be sued by Simons for breach of contract. This information is confirmed at https://www.whatdoth eyknow.com/request/s ize_of_financial_pen alty_if_cha#incoming -171414 Simons Group are clearly having financial problems: http://www.cnplus.co .uk/news/business/si mons-group-remains-i n-the-red-with-pre-t ax-loss/8657201.arti cle#.Ut6_8dJFDyM Is it me or is everything rubbish?
  • Score: 5

7:16pm Tue 21 Jan 14

mr commonsense says...

We have a Conservative run WDDC and they are the party of free enterprise, so how is it that they are acting like some banana republic in underwriting a huge amount of money to further the profits of a private Company.
It all smacks of some corruption in thought or deeds. Who benefits from this debacle ? Could it be some 7 members of the ruling group, all Conservatives, who do not even allow a member of the Council to speak out. This smacks of the days of the Cold War when dissent would put you in prison. Well,let me be clear that as a member of no political party I am horrified at the actions of this Council and would hope they all resign or are voted out of office but then who would give up £50,000 per year Clr Gould, and I am paying for it, disgraceful .
We have a Conservative run WDDC and they are the party of free enterprise, so how is it that they are acting like some banana republic in underwriting a huge amount of money to further the profits of a private Company. It all smacks of some corruption in thought or deeds. Who benefits from this debacle ? Could it be some 7 members of the ruling group, all Conservatives, who do not even allow a member of the Council to speak out. This smacks of the days of the Cold War when dissent would put you in prison. Well,let me be clear that as a member of no political party I am horrified at the actions of this Council and would hope they all resign or are voted out of office but then who would give up £50,000 per year Clr Gould, and I am paying for it, disgraceful . mr commonsense
  • Score: 5

7:40pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Dave Aitch says...

This smacks of the proposed Portland precept increase. Not their money so will spend how they see fit.
This smacks of the proposed Portland precept increase. Not their money so will spend how they see fit. Dave Aitch
  • Score: 1

8:51pm Tue 21 Jan 14

Tinker2 says...

"Oh hello WDDC, Simons here again, you know the £2,000,000 you gave us the other day, well sorry things have changed again and I'm not sure if your development is viable again. If you want it to go ahead we are going to need another £2,000,000, well no better make it £4,000,000 to be on the safe side.
Thanks, usual arrangements?"

Problem when you have a Council desperate to prove all their vastly expensive plans were the right ones and keen to justify their existence, when in fact the right choice should be abolishment and the formation of a unitary authority. Gould and his 'executive inner circle committee' appear quite happy to play footloose with OUR capital reserves (what's a couple of million anyway?!) with little accountability.
Shame on you all !
"Oh hello WDDC, Simons here again, you know the £2,000,000 you gave us the other day, well sorry things have changed again and I'm not sure if your development is viable again. If you want it to go ahead we are going to need another £2,000,000, well no better make it £4,000,000 to be on the safe side. Thanks, usual arrangements?" Problem when you have a Council desperate to prove all their vastly expensive plans were the right ones and keen to justify their existence, when in fact the right choice should be abolishment and the formation of a unitary authority. Gould and his 'executive inner circle committee' appear quite happy to play footloose with OUR capital reserves (what's a couple of million anyway?!) with little accountability. Shame on you all ! Tinker2
  • Score: 3

6:51pm Wed 22 Jan 14

CoogarUK.com says...

Our District Council is an utter disgrace.
Our District Council is an utter disgrace. CoogarUK.com
  • Score: 0

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