A DEVELOPER has been accused of viewing Dorchester residents as ‘country bumpkins’ it can take money from.
West Dorset District Council is set to give an additional £2million to Simons for the Charles Street development.
But town councillors are cross because they set up a meeting with the development company a few weeks ago – and the additional funding was never mentioned.
Nor, says town councillor Tim Harries, was the fact that Dorchester Community Church will be relocated from its current proposed site.
Speaking at full council, Coun Harries said: “I went away from that meeting rather happy and encouraged, which just shows how naive some people can be.
“A fortnight later, matters come to public notice which weren’t mentioned at that meeting.
“Number one, the church is not going where we thought it would be going – the ground is unsuitable.
“It’s going to an unknown location.
“Secondly, apparently Simons is suffering from a £2million financial shortfall – well we’ve all been there.
“In plain English, they are suggesting that they haven’t got any money.”
He said as a commercial business, Simons should borrow from a bank and not take from ‘country bumpkin’ taxpayers.
One of the changes in the scheme would be to move the proposed site of Dorchester Community Church.
Town councillors said they had been in touch with the church which was ‘not happy’ at the announcement.
Tim Westwood, part of the church’s building project group, said ‘various options’ for the new location are available but no decision has yet been reached.
The recommendations will now go before the district council’s executive committee on February 11 before a final decision is made at full council on February 25. Town councillors are to hold another meeting with Simons.
With Simons claiming the town centre scheme is not viable in the current economic climate, the district council’s efficiency and scrutiny committee agreed to underwrite half of the ‘financial gap viability ’– up to £2.062million.
It is part of a raft of recommendations.
A spokesman for Simons said: “Over the last 12 to 18 months Simons have been working on a number of options to ensure the delivery of the right scheme.
“These options have included looking at a reduction of on site car spaces, or as an alternative, a contribution towards a future park and ride. The financial aspects of these options were presented to the efficiency scrutiny committee and the officers made their recommendations.
These will be further considered at forthcoming executive and full council committee meetings.”