ONLY 30% OF SPACE HAS BEEN SIGNED UP
At the full Council meeting on 23rd January the ruling Labour Group approved the spending in excess of £16million, of Chorley residents money, to build an extension to the Market Walk shopping centre. A scheme that the private sector would not touch and is against the national trend in retail. This proposal being done despite earlier agreement by them that the development would not proceed until 75% letting contracts had been agreed. Whilst Marks and Spencer are in discussion with the Council to open a food outlet to date less than 30% of space has been signed up.
50 YEARS OF DEBT
Commented Councillor Alan Cullens, Leader of the Conservative Group. ‘The ruling Party have committed the residents of Chorley to 50 years of debt based on high risk assumptions. This level of financial input will seriously affect the ability of future administrations to improve education, create jobs and invest in other projects. We have consistently voted against this scheme as we do not believe building on the Flat Iron car park is the right thing to do and will seriously affect our existing traders and traditional market offer.
Much was made at the council meeting as to Chorley being unique and this uniqueness was developed by us being a market town not by shopping centres. A uniqueness that used to attract coach loads of visitors from far and wide which no longer happens. By stifling our market traders and closing off swathes of the Flat Iron car park we run the risk of killing off that tradition.
WHAT WE COULD DO INSTEAD
Whilst we strongly agree in the development of a night time economy and more leisure facilities we believe this could have been done in conjunction with offering a wider selection of markets, including, as in Altrincham, evening summer markets etc. By improving on the appearance of the town centre and attracting new traders and shops, fitting of a traditional market town, we can continue to make Chorley unique. This can be done without saddling significant debt on the Borough and our proposals which will be presented to Council in February will show this.
In the meantime we are disappointed that the Labour Group have gone back on their previously agreed 75% and pressed ahead regardless.’