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Lichfield Conservative councillor accuses Lib Dem rival of using new Friarsgate plans for political point scoring

A Lichfield councillor has accused his rival of using the failed Friarsgate development to try to score political points.

Cllr Jon O'Hagan and Cllr Paul Ray

Cllr Jon O’Hagan and Cllr Paul Ray

Lib Dem representative Cllr Paul Ray called for social housing to take centre stage in any future plans for the city centre site.

A long-awaited retail redevelopment on the Friarsgate site finally bit the dust earlier this year after more than a decade of planning, leaving taxpayers with a £7million bill.

But Conservative councillor Jon O’Hagan accused his Lib Dem rival of missing most of the meeting held by a working group on the issue.

“Cllr Ray arrived late to that meeting of the Birmingham Road site working group,” he said. “He then left early, after being there for about half an hour.

“The rest of the group were there for the full meeting, which lasted two and a half hours.

“If Cllr Ray had attended he might have a better understanding of what was discussed.

“It might even have made him think twice before rushing off to LichfieldLive in an attempt to try and point score or to offer up his political sound bites.”

Cllr Ray said his party’s plan for the site had included a focus on housing for those not usually catered for in major city centre housing projects.

“The Lib Dem vision includes working with housing associations to provide family-centric housing as a key part of the development, thereby infusing new life and energy into the centre of the city,” he said.

“We must not just allow the housing on this site to be more housing mainly for the retired and high-end earners.

“I look forward to providing ongoing input into this working group and then seeing action from the Conservatives on taking this project forward.”

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23 Comments

  1. Flossy

    16th October, 2018 at 9:10 am

    So do tell what precisely is the plan?. If you took 2.5 hours over making it hopefully it is comprehensive, costed, deliverable etc. or is it another fairy story?

  2. Michel Souris

    16th October, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Cllr O’Hagan must live in a parallel universe. He claimed during the Stowe Ward by-election that Tories have been out of the streets canvassing hard, yet there is disputed evidence for this. In Leamonsley, no Tory candidate has been seen on the doorsteps for years so I would question the veracity of Cllr O’Hagan’s and Tory facts.

    The Tories are a secret society which is intent on ballsing up this country and Lichfield. Boris, Jacob, Gove, Davies et al should be charged with treason along with Farage for misleading the country over the supposed benefits of Brexit. The current machinations in the Tories has lead to the UK taking the fast route to becoming a Third World state.

    Equally, Wilcox and his cronies have wasted millions of Council taxpayers money on ill-thought out development schemes. Friarsgate was a disaster; the housing developments will lead to total gridlock in Lichfield as the infrastructure cannot sustain the influx of new people and traffic. Where is the strategic planning? Where is the joined-up thinking? Where are the new schools? Where are the doctor surgeries? When will the roads be upgraded? How can you have the new Southern By-pass built then surround it with a housing estate? No sensible thinking from this group of Councillors; they are too old, too self-centred, not enough commercial experience, naive, I could go on.

    Cllr O’Hagan epitomises the arrogance of the Tories by denouncing LibDem comments about opportunities when the Tories have exhausted their well of ideas. Let’s have a change of Council leadership at the next election and elect individuals who care about Lichfield and have ideas how to develop it sensitively and sensibly.

  3. Christine Rapley

    16th October, 2018 at 9:25 am

    A typical Tory politician accusing other Parties of political point scoring. Friarsgate will undoubtedly become another high end housing for the wealthy. Tories are unrealistic and this is why UK is in such a state. Exploiters who don’t give a toss about those less well off. Brexidiots like our MP. UK is in a terrible mess and Conservatives are to blame. Houses are not being built. The poorest in society are actually being killed off by changes to welfare cuts. Friarsgate development ill conceived. Only when country gets Proportional Representation will sound policies ever be generated. Housing is well provided for the wealthy and brings in lots of council tax and stamp duty. For the less well off probably changes hands less frequently. And there needs to be more good quality affordable rental property. The Ford garage was forced to move out, and the space is now empty. What’s going to happen to it? Like the hotel on Beacon Street, Lichfield Library and the old Regal Cinema – housing for the wealthy?

  4. Cllr Jon O'Hagan

    16th October, 2018 at 11:04 am

    This was the first meeting of the cross party working group, that Cllr Ray attended a fifth of.

    There will be much more to come.

  5. Cllr Paul Ray

    16th October, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Jon – did you read my piece? It was just adding to the debate. Don’t close it down.
    And yes there is some criticism. Friarsgate has cost residents £millions

  6. Philip John

    16th October, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    What working group?

    https://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/Search-results.aspx?search_keywords=Friarsgate%20working%20group

    From the outside it looks like Friarsgate is back behind doors.

    Where is the public involvement your embattled leader promised? Or should we just expect what we knew would happen all along – more secret meetings, box-ticking consultation, and a plan for Lichfield dreamt up by the narrow minded imaginations of a few politicians rather than leveraging the creative visions of Lichfield’s residents?

  7. AnnS

    16th October, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Spot on Philip. I have a friend that lives at St John’s outside the Barrs and he overlooks the empty Friarsgate site and because he lives on the 1st floor the view from his lounge is of a hugh mound of soil. The hoardings don’t protect his view. He of course is wondering how many years he’s got to look at this.

  8. Michel Souris

    16th October, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Does not look like you have much support from the populace for your comments Councillor O’Hagan. Resign now along with Wilcox and all the other Tory pensioners on the Council.

  9. Nodge

    16th October, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    If anyone’s guilty of ‘political point scoring’ it’s Cllr O’Hagan. Always pointing the finger yet never addressing the questions and facts presented. Quite a Blue trait if I ever saw one.

    Interestingly I’ve heard on the grapevine that the Tories are proposing setting up a property company as ‘Plan B’ for Friarsgate. Interesting to see where that leads any whether a suitable number of **affordable** dwellings will be part of their ultimate solution.

  10. Dawn

    16th October, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I think it’s safe to say that no one here is going to be surprised by this councils forward thinking when they finally “fess up” and announce that the land intended for Friarsgate is going to be used totally for housing.

    In my mind this will be the ultimate outcome for two reasons, 1/ the councils acceptance to take up the slack from the shortfall in Birmingham’s planned house building and 2/ the recent change in how much councils are allowed to borrow against current housing stock to build more houses.

    And Phillip me you and everyone concerned enough to comment know it will all happen behind closed doors, without cross party approval and certainly without public consultation.

    Although uttered in the backend of the 19th century “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” still rings true when referring to LDC I’m afraid.

  11. Burntwood Bloke

    17th October, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Dress it up however you want. It’s still £7 million of taxpayers money. If there’s ever a drinking session in a brewery somewhere, please don’t let any local MP try and plan it.

  12. Colin Ball

    17th October, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    If Councillor Ray had been able to attend the whole meeting, he would have heard me again argue the case for affordable housing for rent for part of this site, as well as supporting other Councillors arguing for a cinema and leisure facilities. And that’s not the first time that I have argued for more genuinely affordable housing for rent in Lichfield at Council meetings, but then I don’t think that Councillor Ray was there to hear me then either!

    Indeed, pretty much all of the points mentioned by Councillor Ray, apart from the very expensive and probably unrealisable idea of a swimming pool, were raised by someone at the Working Group. However, we do intend also to ensure that there is genuine consultation with local people and businesses before we come up with any long term proposals. I feel very strongly that we need to listen to what people want, rather than try to tell them what we think they want.

    Lichfield City and District Councillor Colin Ball (Curborough Ward)

  13. LetsGiveItASpin

    18th October, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Agggghhhh – Councillors going on about more housing , affordable etc.. is the labour and conservative groups only vision for lichfield city is housing , more housing and more housing? Have you got any ideas outside of housing? I remember Cllr Ball before election saying no housing and bringing the Tory cabinet to account, more lies, more hot hair , once elected you do what the council officers dictate . There is no longer any democracy in lichfield its dead and gone.Any public consultation is just a PR stunt , as the public will want something more than new housing , which is against what the officers want as they battle to find money to cover the £7 million losses and the £2m shortfall in budgets come 2020 when all government funding is withdrawn.

    Philip appears to be the only independent figure in lichfield politics that has an understanding of what the people are saying and needing , neither Labour or Conservatives in Lichfield are giving us choices

  14. Strumpet

    18th October, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    It’s funny how you never see Cllr O’Hagan and Alan Carr in the same room…

  15. Colin Ball

    18th October, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’m sorry, LetsGiveItASpin, but I’ve always been clear that genuinely affordable housing should be a priority across the District and is certainly one option for the Birmingham Road Site (formerly Friarsgate). However, a cinema, leisure facilities and public open spaces are also possible options. What I think we need to do now is go out to public consultation, using a process like Planning for Real, which is what I was suggesting back in June. We listen now so that know that local residents and businesses want, rather rush in with our own ideas of what we think people want.

    I never said “no housIng” and I am certainly doing all that I can to hold the Tory Cabinet and Council overall to account, as anyone would see, if they came along to any Council meetings that I attend.

    Lichfield City and District Councillor for Curborough Ward – Colin Ball

  16. Adam

    18th October, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    £7 million wasted. Charging residents to have their brown bins collected. Councillor O’Hagan you disgust me.

  17. Cllr Jon O'Hagan

    19th October, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Colin, I agree with you, apart from going to consultation now. We need to do more work first, in order to be ready for consultation.

    With the launching of a dedicated email address for the public to send us their ideas, it would be silly to go to the public with our ideas first. Let the publictalk to us. We need to listen.

    Only then can we make provisional plans to take back to the people for consultation.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but remember that you are a very new councillor. We have to do this properly. It’s the only way to move forward.

  18. Nodge

    19th October, 2018 at 9:09 am

    “it would be silly to go to the public with our ideas first”
    Because you don’t have any apart from luxury retirement apartments, right?

  19. Cllr Sue Woodward

    19th October, 2018 at 9:53 am

    What an incredibly patronising comment from Cllr O’Hagan. This says it all about the Tory hegemony at Lichfield DC. Why on earth does he think that his and his collegues’ ideas trump public opinion? They’ve clearly learnt nothing from the Friarsgate fiasco.

  20. AnnS

    19th October, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Cllr. O’Hagon, what is this email address please?

  21. Darryl

    19th October, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    “With the launching of a dedicated email address for the public to send us their ideas.”

    LDC, blazing the technology trail.

  22. Dawn

    19th October, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Has anyone told Councillor Ray that the council have outsourced two thirds of their leisure facilities in Burntwood and Lichfield because they could not afford to run them? Jesus do these councillors even live in this area. And Cllr. O’Hagon shut up until you apologise for squandering 7 mil of our hard earned. You along with all the other tory sycophants who blindly backed the Fuhrer all the way to the bunker, have and deserver no respect.

  23. Dawn

    19th October, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    @Nodge no one should email in the they would be fooked!!

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