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Leader of Lichfield District Council insists he has been “as open as possible” on Friarsgate

The leader of Lichfield District Council says he has been “as open as possible” on Friarsgate.

An artist's impression of the Friarsgate development

An artist’s impression of the Friarsgate development

The long-awaited redevelopment project bit the dust after more than a decade of planning when councillors voted not to pump £49million in to save the scheme.

It came after private funding also failed to materialise, despite assurances from the local authority last year that the building work would start in 2017.

There has also been criticism of the council’s decision to hold the majority of discussions about the scheme behind closed doors once the impending collapse of the project appeared to be moving closer.

Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

But in a letter sent to a local resident last month – seen by LichfieldLive – Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council, said the local authority had tried to take a co-operative approach on the redevelopment scheme.

“The council, supported by the Cabinet, have directed to be as open as possible in sharing information regarding Friarsgate and have actively undertaken cross party briefings,” he said.

Cllr Wilcox – who has previously blamed Brexit and the credit crunch for the failure to get the redevelopment over the line – also insisted that the council had been monitoring the progress of the development and had not been caught on the hop by the lack of private funding.

“Each step of development of the scheme has been subject to comprehensive and independent professional advice from market experts, working closely with the council’s in-house specialists,” he said.

“The retail advisors have undertaken close and active monitoring of the retail sector and the challenges faces. This is regularly reported.

“The current state of the high street retail market has played a significant part in informing Cabinet’s key decisions.

“The council has approached the due diligence and financial aspects of the proposed development with the same rigour as all other key elements, with the combination of independent advice and internal expertise and scrutiny.”

New Labour councillor Colin Ball said he intended to hold the Conservative group to task over their handling of the Friarsgate scheme – and called for Cllr Wilcox to resign after the Tories lost the Curborough ward by-election yesterday (July 5).

Cllr Wilcox has so far declined to comment to LichfieldLive on the collapse of the Friarsgate scheme.

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  1. Concerned Citizen

    6th July, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Hmmm as open as Kim Jong-un.

    MW needs to resign, the people of Curborough show the depth of feeling about this Council.

  2. Philip Allso

    7th July, 2018 at 11:08 am

    It is such a relief to hear that Mike and his mates have no responsibility for the demise (and conception) of Friasgate. The bomb sites around Lichfield and the black hole in our finances is just Brexit and the downturn in the high street. Presumably all those external and internal experts are really to blame and the would be backers, but as their names are as tight as a closed meeting we will never know. Cross party consultations would be significant if there were enough for meaningful discussion. Having had dealings with the District Council over a period of time I have learned just how intransigent and opaque they are. Our district needs to wake up. We have allowed a structure of councillors and office mandarins who seem not to act impartially. The results are all too self evident. Start with the District Council at the next elections. We can then lobby to get better council officers.
    Just one issue is the uncontrolled expansion of housing development. We are amongst the highest in the country. Size without infrastructure spells a range of difficulties which seem to be beyond the imagination of the present set up.

  3. Roy Appleby

    7th July, 2018 at 1:52 pm


    Hear,hear !!