Council Must Decide

When it comes to the big decisions facing this City it is important that the democratically elected representatives of the people take them. Time may be short but it is our clear responsibility to weigh the pros and cons of both the decision to buy the properties and how to manage them in the future. Richard Graham MP may not be ‘bothered’, maybe the sums involved seem insignificant to the former banker, but the future regeneration of large parts of the City hangs in the balance. That is something that the citizens of Gloucester are bothered about.

The fact is the City is being forced to pay the Treasury for assets that were bought for the regeneration of the City as part of the break up of the South West Regional Development Agency. Some of these ‘assets’ bring benefits and others considerable risks. That is why I, as leader of the only true Opposition, called for the meeting and that is why Labour will be taking a close look at the recommendations to ensure that they are taken it the best interests of the City.

City assets could cost taxpayer £250,000

Saturday, June 11, 2011

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VITAL assets in Gloucester’s city council will be transferred to the council – at huge cost to the taxpayer.

Property such as the Barbican car park, the historic but semi-derelict 500-year-old Fleece Hotel and land at Gloucester Docks is up for sale as the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), which currently owns them, is being wound up.

Other assets include numbers 23-25 and 27-29 Commercial Road.

But the Government has announced it will only handed to city council bosses if they pay the full rate.

The news is a blow to the city council, which was hoping to take over the assets for a nominal fee of £1.

But the bill is believed to be in the region of £250,000.

It comes at the same time that the council is having to save £3.9 million by next March.

A crunch meeting of full council has now been called for June 20, where politicians will decide whether or not to go ahead.

Councillor Kate Haigh, leader of the city’s Labour group, who called the meeting, said: “We feel this is a very important decision for the city and the council.

“There are some big risks involved in taking on these assets, and we have a responsibility to act democratically.

Sensitivity

“Negotiations are ongoing and I understand the amount of money we are talking about is significant.”

The overall value of the assets are being kept under wraps due to commercial sensitivity.

The transfer of assets is seen as vital to the regeneration of the city, which is halfway through its 10 year plan.

Councillor Paul James, leader of the city council, said: “We have agreed to take the assets on subject to negotiations.

“We aim to get the best possible deal for the city.”

Richard Graham, Conservative MP for Gloucester, said: “The Regional Development Agency and the city council have been negotiating a final price for the transfer of assets.

“My understanding is they were close to reaching an agreement.

“The sums involved will be a nominal sum for the real value of the assets so I am not unduly bothered by this and the city council has got it under control.”

Numbers 23-29 Commercial Road are being earmarked for a restaurant and offices, and a hotel and multi-storey car park are being planned on the Barbican car park site.

Land at the Docks is set to become the new headquarters for Ecclesiastical Insurance by 2015.

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