Leader of the council, John Jarvis ‘Cockup’, today suspended its cabinet meeting after members of the public refused to leave to allow ‘private’ discussions to take place.
Councillors walked out of their own meeting to carry on in private to cries of anger from the public gallery.
After reconvening in public 40 minutes later, the council unanimously approved amendments to the ESG plan, which will allow High Town shops to be moved to the new retail development.
Passionate interruptions from the public gallery became so frequent that Jarvis Cockup threatened to suspend the meeting yet again if the heckling didn’t stop.
The deal done by the council will now allow:
o developers to poach any existing High Town tenant to move them to the new retail quarter. ESG rents will be so low that it will make financial sense to move across the ring road
o only a third of the site to be initially developed with no timescale agreed to deliver the remaining scheme (meaning a new cinema will not be built for a very long time)
o land to be sold at only a tenth of the original value.
Montagu Evans, acting as surveyors for Herefordshire Council, confirmed that only around seven of the available 35 units have been pre-let. Despite this, Tory councillors continued to state how the only alternative to the current plan would be new Tesco store.
Throughout the meeting Jarvis Cockup appeared vindictive and arrogant when faced with difficult questions. Though the most striking aspect in all of this is how Herefordshire Council are refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming opposition to its plans, not only from those who have been critical from day one, but from people who were at one time supportive but now see the poor deal for it really is.
The deal done today is incredibly bad for Herefordshire. It will see Stanhope and builders Robert McAlpine giving Hereford only a department store and five or six new units likely to be occupied by shops already trading in the city. And that’s it.
The Conservatives on council’s cabinet committee are fooling no one into thinking this will keep young people from moving away or will bring new jobs to the area, as they stated so often as reasons why the amendments should be agreed. It is motived only by money and the fact that can see their cattle market deal becoming worse and worse as the years go by.
Today was a hasty decision taken only to save their political face. A sad day for Herefordshire.
See also: The report the council didn’t want you to see.