Herefordshire Council’s budget has been slashed and job losses are being threatened left, right and centre.
Yet plans are being put in place to borrow £27 million to fund a highly controversial link road to Hereford’s Edgar Street Grid.
The plans for a taxpayer-funded road are being drawn up after the council had been refused funding from both the public and private sectors.
Further developments with the ESG retail quarter reveal that a deal to receive the £80 million needed for the project to go ahead is yet to be done. Rents on the grid are being driven down as a dealbreaker, putting the site in direct competition with High Town.
Work to clear the old cattle market site is due to start at the beginning of March.
One group conspicuous by their absence in objecting to the plans is It’s Our City. Once a powerful campaign group boasting the support of more than 13,000 people, its leading lights wound it up in favour of political group It’s Our County, eager to get a taste of power for themselves.
A year later, and now with several councillors, It’s Our County boasts little of the active, grassroots support it could do in its former incarnation, and little power to effectively challenge Hereforshire’s supreme Tory council.
Whereas It’s Our City could’ve whipped up a fury in protest at plans to borrow £27 million to fund a new ring road, opposed by most of Hereford’s people, It’s Our County can do little more than ask awkward questions of top council chiefs.
The Heckler has never been opposed to development on the cattle market site, but what we do object to is having our city and its heritage sold down the river to ruthless property speculators and greedy multinational companies looking for a quick buck.
Development on the site must genuinely benefit the people, but Tory politicians cannot be trusted to strike a deal that has the city’s best interests at heart. Sadly, when It’s Our County politicians killed of the grassroots movement against the ESG, they killed off any real hope of stopping the Tories in their tracks.
Herefordshire Council’s talks with financial backers are ongoing.