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

Councillors in Burntwood have renewed their calls for the town to get a fairer share of funding on the first anniversary of the collapse of Lichfield’s Friarsgate redevelopment plans.

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

The long-awaited city centre scheme bit the dust last year, leaving taxpayers facing a bill of millions and leading to half of Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet at the time to resign.

Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of Burntwood Town Council, was the leader of the opposition Labour group at the district council at the time the Friarsgate scheme was scrapped.

She subsequently lead calls for the local authority’s Conservative leadership to spend more money in Burntwood and the rural areas as the cost of the failed scheme continued to spiral beyond the initial £7million bill.

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Woodward, who stood down from the district council in May, said: “Twelve months on, there has been little visible progress with the redevelopment of the site at Birmingham Road.

“It was described by one former Conservative as ‘a pile of rubble’ and that’s before the old police station is demolished.

“Apparently, consultants are to be appointed by the end of this month to develop plans, but the Conservative administrations have acted like rabbits in headlights for a year now.

“As the then opposition leader, I proposed a review of the council’s capital budgets to ensure that areas outside the city also had a fair share of resources.

“Nothing has moved forward on that front either and the modest proposal we put forward to allocate £1million to Burntwood and £750,000 to the rural communities was rejected earlier this year by the previous council.

“Even the £60,000 now to be spent on consultants could have been well-spent in Burntwood and that’s a tiny fraction of what’s already been spent on the Birmingham Road Site.”

“Progress on the Birmingham Road wasteland”

Cllr Steve Norman, who took over the Labour group leadership from his wife when he was elected last month, said he was committed to ensuring Friarsgate failures of the past would not be repeated.

“The new Conservative leadership has promised a fairer deal for Burntwood and progress on the Birmingham Road wasteland, which is fast becoming a tourist attraction in itself,” he said.

“The recently strengthened opposition will hold them to those promises.”

At the time of the Friarsgate collapse, there had been criticism over the number of meetings held behind closed doors, including one that saw confidential documents regarding the demise of the scheme presented to the council in June 2018.

However, one local resident has had an appeal to the Information Commissioner upheld, leading to them being made available to him.

But Labour are now calling for them to be made visible to all taxpayers.

Cllr Woodward said: “I trust that new council members and the new leadership will have learnt lessons from the Friarsgate fiasco and that Labour’s call for fairer capital investment across the whole district will be listened to.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

4 replies on “Councillors use first anniversary of Friarsgate collapse to call for fairer deal for all Lichfield and Burntwood residents”

  1. I completely support everything in this article.

    I commit to work to ensure that an affordable and deliverable scheme is drawn up for the former Friarsgate site. I will also ensure that this has had extensive consultation with and, therefore, support from all local residents, businesses and other stakeholders.

    I will also continue to support a fairer funding approach across the District, making sure that Burntwood and our rural areas get the support and funding that they need.

    I agree that all information relating to the former Friarsgate scheme should be made public to all, including financial information. I urge the District Council to make this available on their website as soon as possible.

    Colin Ball – Labour Lichfield City and District Councillor for Curborough.

  2. 7 million? You’re a disgrace! Why is no one being held accountable? How is it that tax payers money can be wasted so carelessly? How dare the council hide how tax payers money is spent; all budgets should be made completely transparent and available for all to access with ease.
    This call for “fairer” funding makes me laugh also.. fairer is not good enough, if should be fair. Everyone in the district pays the same council tax, share it evenly.
    Is it any wonder the people have lost faith in government and their local councils. It’s time for change

  3. Lee Jones – and yet still people vote for the same local party and local councillors. It’s monumentally depressing that a council so inept and corrupt still gets voted in. It’s the one thing about Lichfield I completely despise – the complete lack of guts and mettle shown by the electorate.

  4. And when the opposition finally win, the coffers have been emptied………all that remains are piles of rubble, consultancy bills and old time-share brochures.

Comments are closed.