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Councillor claims spending policy shows Lichfield is being given priority over Burntwood

A Labour councillor has accused Lichfield District Council’s leader of pursuing a policy of prioritising the city over Burntwood.

Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council House

Cllr Eric Drinkwater’s comments were made during a private meeting on the Friarsgate development.

Minutes from the debate, where councillors decided not to spend £49million on the project, have revealed that the Labour member had branded the Conservative group’s handling of the doomed scheme as “a fiasco”.

And he insisted the council needed to ensure spending was benefiting all residents.

Cllr Eric Drinkwater

Cllr Eric Drinkwater

Cllr Drinkwater said: “The leader is following the course set by the former leader, when he decided the capital budget for the whole district should be spent in the city, despite the needs in Burntwood.”

The Friarsgate discussions have been held mostly behind closed doors, but Cllr Drinkwater claimed even councillors have been kept away from the facts.

“Only when the developers couldn’t get funding were some members involved in discussions,” he said. “And even then the information was hidden in piles of documents that only consultants could understand.

“It’s a great pity that three members of the Cabinet felt they had to resign – perhaps one or two other people should consider their records and search their consciences about whether they should also resign.

“There must have been warnings along the way which were disregarded in the hope that everything would come right – but it hasn’t come right and this is bad leadership.”

Cllr Drinkwater’s comments follow those of his group leader, Cllr Sue Woodward, after it emerged that just £1,360 had been spent on capital projects in Burntwood not owned by the council since May 2015.

The minutes from the meeting reveal that Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council, said that Friarsgate “would have benefited the whole district” – and insisted that the council was “working hard” to bring investment to Burntwood.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.