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New Labour leader vows to keep up pressure on Conservatives to sort out Friarsgate fiasco

The new Labour group leader at Lichfield District Council says the pressure will be kept up on the Conservatives to sort out the mess left behind by the failed Friarsgate development.

The former Tempest Ford site, part of the area earmarked for the failed Friarsgate scheme
The former Tempest Ford site, part of the area earmarked for the failed Friarsgate scheme

The long-awaited redevelopment scheme bit the dust last year after more than a decade in the planning when it emerged that only a fraction of the funding required could be found.

But despite this, large sections of the land earmarked for the scheme was cleared, including the former Tempest Ford garage which saw the business forced to close to make way for Friarsgate.

The site now stands empty while sections of the bus station also remained boarded up.

Cllr Steve Norman, who has been named as the new opposition Labour group leader said the council needed to find a solution to the Friarsgate fiasco.

Cllr Steve Norman
Cllr Steve Norman

“The biggest challenge Lichfield District Council has, in addition to the cuts in funding supported by the Conservative MPs, is Friarsgate,” he said.

“Just this week when I met with the chief executive, I saw a resident – or maybe he was a tourist – straining to look over the fencing around the Friarsgate site.

“Perhaps it was because eight years ago he had read that work was starting in 2012 or maybe he was looking for a car to buy?”

Cllr Norman was previously leader of the Labour group before losing his seat after a shake-up of ward boundaries. He takes on the role after his wife Sue Woodward opted not to seek re-election to the district council.

But following his victory in the Chase Terrace ward, the new Labour leader said he hoped an increased number of Labour councillors would be able to ensure they hold the controlling Conservative group to account.

Councillor Norman said: “We are now back to our strength in 2011 with 10 members – eight from Burntwood and two from Lichfield.

“I know how difficult it is for a very small opposition to make an impact but I know that the previous leader did just that in a constructive way that won her great respect from members on both sides of the council chamber.

“My hope is that the Conservative leader, whether Mike Wilcox or someone else, will let us help him to find a way forward with Friarsgate.

“Good scrutiny and transparency are healthy for decision making and leads to good governance and so I hope we can work together for the benefit of the whole of Lichfield district – not just Lichfield city.”

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  1. Steve Norman

    9th May, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    “him” was a giveaway- not a sexist comment. We’ll know tomorrow.

  2. Steve Norman

    9th May, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    or tonight!