'Following the release yesterday by Chorley Council, on social media, confirming reports Marks and Spencer were reviewing their store openings the administration has now said the opportunity should be taken to pause and reconsider the project.
Consistently the Conservative Group, for the last two years, has voted against progressing the scheme due to the volatility within the national retail sector. Throughout the project we have forced the ruling Labour Group to adhere to a contracted percentage occupancy which would have ensured the project's success. Without our rational approach we could now have ended up with a high cost development with empty retail units.
Our proposals to improve our town and the excellent markets have consistently been rejected by the ruling Labour Administration in favour of the Market Walk scheme which has now seen millions of pounds of tax payers’ money spent with little to show for it. We must now fully understand what the current position is with full disclosure of how much has already been spent and what our future commitments are. The council owe it to the residents of our borough to give them the full facts and to understand where their hard-earned money has gone.
We in the Group wholeheartedly agree that any decision made by Marks and Spencer is not a reflection on the town of Chorley but part of the changing nature of how people shop. Importantly in moving forward we need to ensure we work with local traders, market stall holders and businesses to create a thriving town centre and night time economy whilst considering the changing nature of the retail world.
UPDATE: Read the report facing councillors in closed session tonight (Tuesday 21 November 2017)