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Lichfield Civic Society hits out at council’s lack of engagement over future of land earmarked for doomed Friarsgate redevelopment

The Lichfield Civic Society has criticised what it says is a lack of engagement with outside groups on the future of land earmarked for the doomed Friarsgate redevelopment.

Part of the area earmarked for Friarsgate
Part of the area earmarked for Friarsgate

Lichfield District Council has outlined its short term plans for the site after the creation of a working group to discuss a way forward for the land – now rebranded the Birmingham Road site.

But Lichfield Civic Society said interested parties should have been brought to the table earlier.

“The only public involvement so far amounts to anger and frustration,” a spokesperson said.

“The council doesn’t seem to understand that groups want active involvement, preferably starting with a blank sheet of paper.

“Why are they so concerned over having open discussions and active participation?”

Lichfield Civic Society’s comments come after it emerged that just two councillors had turned up to a meeting of the Birmingham Road Site working group before Christmas.

The chairman of the group, Cllr Tom Marshall, denied that the lack of attendance had prevented the gathering from being a useful one.

“Of course, the presence of only two councillors at the event was hugely disappointing,” he said.

Cllr Thomas Marshall
Cllr Thomas Marshall

“However, there were extenuating circumstances and the meeting was still extremely worthwhile.

“Because there is a widely-held desire to expedite the process in bringing forward a development, it was felt that a meeting prior to Christmas was important.

“However, all councillors tend to have busy schedules at this time and finding a date which suited everyone was impossible.

“I can assure everyone that the subject of the site’s redevelopment is being treated with great urgency, and no one underestimates the importance of making this a feature of Lichfield which will meet the needs of the district’s residents of all ages, and at the same time, help to promote the city as a popular tourist location.”

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5 Comments

  1. Neil Hickman

    26th January, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    “I can assure everyone that the subject of the site’s redevelopment is being treated with great urgency, and no one underestimates the importance of making this a feature of Lichfield which will meet the needs of the district’s residents of all ages, and at the same time, help to promote the city as a popular tourist location.”

    Not sure you understand the meaning of the word urgent and if the attendance of the December meeting is anything to go by neither do the other councillors involved.

    What we need are people that are interested in how gateway to the city looks and then someone in charge that makes them attend meetings or gets rid of them.Naming and shaming those who can’t be arsed wouldn’t go a miss either. Might just focus the mind on who they actually work for!!

  2. Philip Allso

    28th January, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Both the Civic Society and the City Council has very few powers. This is a pity because they truly represent most people’s aspirations for how Lichfield should develop. The District Council takes a broader view and seems unable to please anybody.

  3. Asellus aquaticus

    29th January, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    “…Both the Civic Society and the City Council …truly represent most people’s aspirations for how Lichfield should develop”…

    Meant well, I’m sure, but that’s a very bold statement. The City Councillors are routinely elected by fewer of the public than are District Councillors, and members of the Civic Society are self selected, and not elected at all.

    I thought that ‘most people’ were not in favour of unelected bodies having more power…

  4. Philip Allso

    29th January, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    I take your point Asellus aquaticus. Perhaps there is disinterest in the City Council because they have no influence. Their remit in any case is very limited. Local politics is not a popular subject for many. My occasional involvement with the Civic Society has been positive, but yes they are well meaning in a very limited capacity. A major aspect of both these organisations is that they are made up from people who live in the city. A vested interest in their environs might probably bring about a more circumspect attitude to any changes. I do not think that Stafford County Council, Lichfield District Council or some of the officers of the council necessarily think likewise. You hear of many towns and cities with similar complaints about their administrations. As in all democratic elections you get what you deserve. There seems to be a thought that if you comment on an issue you must have an alternative answer. I wish that I had because, having lived in Lichfield most of my life, it is painful to see the circumstances it is now in (on many issues) and any prospects of a satisfactory outcome. Perhaps my comments about the City Council and Civic Society was just clutching at straws.

  5. Steve

    29th January, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    @Colin Ball, @Tom Marshall

    Did you know that this plan was going ahead?

    Did the SWOT analysis take this into account?

    If the council tax payers of Lichfield pay for the police station and other buildings to be cleared. For any contamination of the land to be cleared. It then makes it far easier for home builders to make a profit on this land, as the expensive work will have been already completed.

    It does appear a working group has been set up to discuss options. Yet, the final decisions have already been taken by Cllr Wilcox.

    I do hope I am wrong. I have however seen this happen many times. The decision has been made, they just want reports to prove they have made the correct decison and will commission as many reports as required, until one gives the required conclusions.