It’s a good sum of money to get from government, but we need to remember two things.

First, the Borough and County Councils paid to buy the old Sainsbury’s site many years ago; then they borrowed £13M to build the new civic hub. We are all still paying for that with interest.

Secondly, soon after buying the old Sainsbury’s site (the Ryecroft), the Borough Council (while run by Labour) resolved in a debate about the site that they would not agree to pay for a new civic building until and unless income from the sale and development of the site was guaranteed.  I was the person on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, who proposed that resolution and it was passed by a huge majority.

They broke their own rules by going ahead with borrowing for the new building, with no income from the Sainsbury’s site and even with the prospect of the cost of looking after the old civic offices for a few years. In addition they spent money on a development consultant to investigate how to develop the site. The Conservatives supported this and have been in control for a few years since then.

Nigel Jones

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