Opposition join forces to voice anger over William Hunter Way "cover-up"

10:00am Wednesday 22nd January 2014

COVER-UP accusations have been fired at ruling Conservative councillors in Brentwood over the William Hunter Way development.

Opposition councillors have vented their fury after a meeting with building firm Aquila where they were shown detailed plans of an alternative for the multi-million project.

As revealed in the Weekly News last month, the company who represent Waitrose had offered the council an opposing plan for the site involving Waitrose and a six-screen cinema.

However these offers were rejected in favour of continuing with the current deal with Stockland which includes a Marks & Spencers, TK Maxx, cinema and multi-storey car park.

Aquila told the councillors their deal was worth £6million more than Stocklands plus an annual revenue guarantee of £325,000.

Echoing previous calls, the opposition members are urging the Conservative group to reconsider the current plans.

Brentwood First leader William Lloyd said: “We are not necessarily saying that this is the right development, but what it does prove is that there are alternatives to the development the Tories are determined to push through.

“The opposition feel, given the extent of the inadequacy of the Stockland deal versus Aquilla, is a dereliction of the Council Leadership's duty in, inexplicably, forcing the taxpayer to accept far less.”

Phil Mynott, Lib Dem councillor for Brentwood North, added: “Whilst supporting a cinema, we have consistently asked for alternative proposals that are right for Brentwood. Not just one proposal that was approved by the Conservatives in 2009 and is woefully out-of-date in 2014.”

Council leader Louise McKinlay said it has been said many times the deal being discussed with Stockland is legally binding meaning alternatives cannot be considered.

Mrs McKinlay, a Conservative, said: “As long as we are committed to this deal there is no reason to enter into any other agreement relating to the site.

“It is only if the agreement with Stockland were to be terminated for any reason that the council would consider proposals from alternative parties, and this would be subject to a full procurement process.”

Negotiations between the council and Stockland over starting the building work are ongoing.

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