Councillors agree to allocate £2million of public funds to Dorchester scheme

Dorset Echo: Councillors agree to allocate £2million of public funds to Dorchester scheme Councillors agree to allocate £2million of public funds to Dorchester scheme

PLANS to allocate a further £2million of public funds to Dorchester’s Charles Street scheme have been approved in what one councillor described as ‘a sad day’ for the town.

At a meeting of West Dorset District Council this afternoon, members have voted in favour of a series of recommendations that include underwriting developer Simons to the tune of £2.062m.

The proposals were put before the council after the developers of the town centre site claimed that the scheme is unviable in its current format and asked the council to underwrite the ‘financial gap to viability’.

The approval came despite strong criticism from several councillors, including Alistair Chisholm.

He said that it was unfair on other developers in the town that Simons was benefiting from public funds when they had been forced to seek private funding.

Coun Chisholm said: “I object on behalf of the people who elected me to yet more millions of precious public money being put into the hands of a private developer.

“Other developments have taken place purely on the back of private money, this development should be done in exactly the same way.

“I think this is a sad day.”

Coun Tim Harries asked: “Why are the local council tax payers having to underwrite the financial gap to viability?”

Coun Robin Legg added: “It is still not viable and I would pull the plug on it now because that is the rational thing to do.”

The move also came under fire from councillors and members of the public who were concerned about the potential for any affordable housing element to be withdrawn from the scheme.

Coun Stella Jones said: “As well as shops Dorchester also needs affordable housing.

“We should be setting an example to other developers in West Dorset.”

Council leader Robert Gould said that the viability of including affordable housing would be assessed during the planning application process.

A total of 31 councillors voted to underwrite the scheme, with three against and six abstentions.

Other recommendations backed by members included requiring Simons to carry out further consultation before its planning application is submitted for the scheme, while the council is also seeking to achieve the maximum number of parking spaces on the site of around 470.

Comments (25)

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3:47pm Tue 25 Feb 14

mr commonsense says...

I never wanted to say this but it smacks of dirty deeds and corruption and yes I am available to debate this with Clr Gould.
I never wanted to say this but it smacks of dirty deeds and corruption and yes I am available to debate this with Clr Gould. mr commonsense
  • Score: 27

3:50pm Tue 25 Feb 14

weymouthfox says...

Dorchester can afford to hand out millions to help developers, whereas Weymouth is as poor as a church mouse. Have our councillors helped West Dorset to take over Weymouth & Portland?
Dorchester can afford to hand out millions to help developers, whereas Weymouth is as poor as a church mouse. Have our councillors helped West Dorset to take over Weymouth & Portland? weymouthfox
  • Score: 14

4:32pm Tue 25 Feb 14

cosmick says...

Time for a change at the next set of elections. What planet are they on. Vote them out ASAP.
Time for a change at the next set of elections. What planet are they on. Vote them out ASAP. cosmick
  • Score: 20

4:33pm Tue 25 Feb 14

WestDorsetLass says...

I'm going to set up a private company, concoct a half-baked development scheme and go to WDDC for two million quid. Will send them a postcard from the beach shortly after the money is cleared with thanks to the taxpayer.
I'm going to set up a private company, concoct a half-baked development scheme and go to WDDC for two million quid. Will send them a postcard from the beach shortly after the money is cleared with thanks to the taxpayer. WestDorsetLass
  • Score: 7

4:42pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Dorset stuff says...

Seriously, Simons runs out of capital and goes cap in hand to WDDC, lots of objections left right and centre and Clr Gould does what he always does, implements the least popular decision. Please please please vote this man OUT, he is slowly wrecking this town.
Seriously, Simons runs out of capital and goes cap in hand to WDDC, lots of objections left right and centre and Clr Gould does what he always does, implements the least popular decision. Please please please vote this man OUT, he is slowly wrecking this town. Dorset stuff
  • Score: 25

5:07pm Tue 25 Feb 14

portland rebel says...

next week we will be reading, services cut due to budget short fall..
next week we will be reading, services cut due to budget short fall.. portland rebel
  • Score: 9

5:59pm Tue 25 Feb 14

nearlythere says...

it is crazy to give a private company this money when there are empty shops in town at the moment. Also 31 members voted for this,not just Gould, are they all mad !!!!!!
it is crazy to give a private company this money when there are empty shops in town at the moment. Also 31 members voted for this,not just Gould, are they all mad !!!!!! nearlythere
  • Score: 9

6:13pm Tue 25 Feb 14

portlandresident says...

Oh for crying out loud. Seems this authority still doesn't realise when to stop throwing away money on stuff like this, when they're cutting their own services due to lack of money!!!!! The irony!
Oh for crying out loud. Seems this authority still doesn't realise when to stop throwing away money on stuff like this, when they're cutting their own services due to lack of money!!!!! The irony! portlandresident
  • Score: 8

6:18pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Schrodinger's Cat says...

nearlythere wrote:
it is crazy to give a private company this money when there are empty shops in town at the moment. Also 31 members voted for this,not just Gould, are they all mad !!!!!!
No, they're Conservatives (or is that just the same thing?)
[quote][p][bold]nearlythere[/bold] wrote: it is crazy to give a private company this money when there are empty shops in town at the moment. Also 31 members voted for this,not just Gould, are they all mad !!!!!![/p][/quote]No, they're Conservatives (or is that just the same thing?) Schrodinger's Cat
  • Score: 4

8:04pm Tue 25 Feb 14

tomekhobot says...

What a waste of OUR hard earned money! The Councillors are responsible to those whom elected them.
The developer should pay any profits up to the amount £2.062M given them.
What a waste of OUR hard earned money! The Councillors are responsible to those whom elected them. The developer should pay any profits up to the amount £2.062M given them. tomekhobot
  • Score: 3

8:20pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Dorset Boy says...

Once again Gould and his tory cronies have disregarded the will of the tax payer, and they call this democracy. NOW is the time to get rid of all local councils and have 1 unitary authority for the county.
Once again Gould and his tory cronies have disregarded the will of the tax payer, and they call this democracy. NOW is the time to get rid of all local councils and have 1 unitary authority for the county. Dorset Boy
  • Score: 4

8:33pm Tue 25 Feb 14

arlbergbahn says...

Funny how Councils can always find funds to prop up their Flagship schemes that they've ****ed up, isn't it. Ask them to mend the roads, though, for example, and it's always "regrettably we face a Budget Deficit Crisis".
Funny how Councils can always find funds to prop up their Flagship schemes that they've ****ed up, isn't it. Ask them to mend the roads, though, for example, and it's always "regrettably we face a Budget Deficit Crisis". arlbergbahn
  • Score: 7

8:58pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Noidear says...

Ha ha brilliant the public sector at its best? Yep wasting r penny's . Y not put some big mushrooms on top town roundabout, that waste some more or even a few palm trees in the high street.
Ha ha brilliant the public sector at its best? Yep wasting r penny's . Y not put some big mushrooms on top town roundabout, that waste some more or even a few palm trees in the high street. Noidear
  • Score: 3

9:00pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Noidear says...

arlbergbahn wrote:
Funny how Councils can always find funds to prop up their Flagship schemes that they've ****ed up, isn't it. Ask them to mend the roads, though, for example, and it's always "regrettably we face a Budget Deficit Crisis".
Mend the roads that's unthinkable. We can't waste money at that, what r u thinking?
[quote][p][bold]arlbergbahn[/bold] wrote: Funny how Councils can always find funds to prop up their Flagship schemes that they've ****ed up, isn't it. Ask them to mend the roads, though, for example, and it's always "regrettably we face a Budget Deficit Crisis".[/p][/quote]Mend the roads that's unthinkable. We can't waste money at that, what r u thinking? Noidear
  • Score: 1

9:32pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Tinker2 says...

tomekhobot wrote:
What a waste of OUR hard earned money! The Councillors are responsible to those whom elected them. The developer should pay any profits up to the amount £2.062M given them.
If the WDDC possessed any business acumen they should not have meekly agreed to the developers requests for a hand-out. Chances are they will be back for more as it is quite apparent that Simons have the upper hand.
I am sure it would have been possible to tie in the £2 million to a commercial investment in the development; e.g. the most obvious a 'loan', or a share holding in the development, or the company. Any of these type of commercial arrangements would have been possible and would demonstrate to the property tax payer, that the WDDC are prudent and seek to act in the best interests of it's electorate, not just to give money away.
[quote][p][bold]tomekhobot[/bold] wrote: What a waste of OUR hard earned money! The Councillors are responsible to those whom elected them. The developer should pay any profits up to the amount £2.062M given them.[/p][/quote]If the WDDC possessed any business acumen they should not have meekly agreed to the developers requests for a hand-out. Chances are they will be back for more as it is quite apparent that Simons have the upper hand. I am sure it would have been possible to tie in the £2 million to a commercial investment in the development; e.g. the most obvious a 'loan', or a share holding in the development, or the company. Any of these type of commercial arrangements would have been possible and would demonstrate to the property tax payer, that the WDDC are prudent and seek to act in the best interests of it's electorate, not just to give money away. Tinker2
  • Score: -2

9:52pm Tue 25 Feb 14

high68 says...

woeful decision. Simons must be absolutely **** themselves laughing that they've managed to get a couple more million out of WDDC
woeful decision. Simons must be absolutely **** themselves laughing that they've managed to get a couple more million out of WDDC high68
  • Score: 4

10:18pm Tue 25 Feb 14

mr commonsense says...

Further to my previous post I wonder what is going on amongst our Councillors. 31 voted for this money to be given to Simons, does this suggest to the readers of the Echo that there is not one single person on the Council who has principles or an ounce of business sense? Clearly a rod of iron is applied to the 31 minus those who sit in the cabinet and therefore no other conclusion can be drawn other than WDDC is a satelite of North Korea.
The whole sorry debacle is a disgrace.
Further to my previous post I wonder what is going on amongst our Councillors. 31 voted for this money to be given to Simons, does this suggest to the readers of the Echo that there is not one single person on the Council who has principles or an ounce of business sense? Clearly a rod of iron is applied to the 31 minus those who sit in the cabinet and therefore no other conclusion can be drawn other than WDDC is a satelite of North Korea. The whole sorry debacle is a disgrace. mr commonsense
  • Score: 5

10:40pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Under35andout says...

allow doirset move to hampshire
allow doirset move to hampshire Under35andout
  • Score: -1

12:15am Wed 26 Feb 14

zoltan the bearded says...

The T*ry voters of Sherborne (who keep electing Gould) should realise it's also their money going into the pocket of a private developer, with no expectation or commitment for us to get anything out of it. Why should public money be involved? Brewery Square seems to be getting on fine without it.
The T*ry voters of Sherborne (who keep electing Gould) should realise it's also their money going into the pocket of a private developer, with no expectation or commitment for us to get anything out of it. Why should public money be involved? Brewery Square seems to be getting on fine without it. zoltan the bearded
  • Score: 3

1:02am Wed 26 Feb 14

westernkanker says...

Don't forget people, we.re all in this together...now go out and work to pay your tax then die quietly.....there's a good little battery.
Don't forget people, we.re all in this together...now go out and work to pay your tax then die quietly.....there's a good little battery. westernkanker
  • Score: 4

7:34am Wed 26 Feb 14

Resident of Dorchester says...

i cannot find a word that is beyond crass incompetence. i am going to do a search on the company and and if they are out of cash, they are bankrupt and the councillors are liable. too good for them, all of then irrespective of politics.
i cannot find a word that is beyond crass incompetence. i am going to do a search on the company and and if they are out of cash, they are bankrupt and the councillors are liable. too good for them, all of then irrespective of politics. Resident of Dorchester
  • Score: 1

4:03pm Wed 26 Feb 14

The Fish says...

A quick check of Simons Group Limited show they have assets (as of 2013) of £45.5m, cash £15.6m, a net worth of £9.5m and liabilities of £27.9 - why are they not using their money (i.e. private money - not public funds)?
A quick check of Simons Group Limited show they have assets (as of 2013) of £45.5m, cash £15.6m, a net worth of £9.5m and liabilities of £27.9 - why are they not using their money (i.e. private money - not public funds)? The Fish
  • Score: -2

4:26pm Wed 26 Feb 14

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE says...

Something smells!
Something smells! IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE
  • Score: -2

4:36pm Wed 26 Feb 14

arlbergbahn says...

The Fish wrote:
A quick check of Simons Group Limited show they have assets (as of 2013) of £45.5m, cash £15.6m, a net worth of £9.5m and liabilities of £27.9 - why are they not using their money (i.e. private money - not public funds)?
I suspect because they've realised what an easy touch West Dorset D.C. are, and how desperate they are that this scheme of theirs doesn't turn out to be a complete white elephant.
[quote][p][bold]The Fish[/bold] wrote: A quick check of Simons Group Limited show they have assets (as of 2013) of £45.5m, cash £15.6m, a net worth of £9.5m and liabilities of £27.9 - why are they not using their money (i.e. private money - not public funds)?[/p][/quote]I suspect because they've realised what an easy touch West Dorset D.C. are, and how desperate they are that this scheme of theirs doesn't turn out to be a complete white elephant. arlbergbahn
  • Score: -2

4:37pm Wed 26 Feb 14

anitaharries says...

Once again Robert Gould and his puppets appear to find money to sure up their own embarrassment. Why are we, the tax-payer, once again bailing out Simons by underwriting the financial gap? Do Simons have cash flow problems? Not for as long as the cash continues to flow from West Dorset District Council. They are private developers. If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!! Our roads can fall apart, services can be cut, shops remain empty and local people suffer - no money to help here, then. But Mr. Gould's pet project ......... bring on the jackpot!! As long as we save his skin, to hell with the rest.
Once again Robert Gould and his puppets appear to find money to sure up their own embarrassment. Why are we, the tax-payer, once again bailing out Simons by underwriting the financial gap? Do Simons have cash flow problems? Not for as long as the cash continues to flow from West Dorset District Council. They are private developers. If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!! Our roads can fall apart, services can be cut, shops remain empty and local people suffer - no money to help here, then. But Mr. Gould's pet project ......... bring on the jackpot!! As long as we save his skin, to hell with the rest. anitaharries
  • Score: -1

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