Lib-Dems propose delay to Royton revamp
Reporter: Lucy Kenderdine
Date online: 04 February 2014
PROPOSALS by Liberal Democrat councillors to halt Royton’s regeneration have been met fierce opposition from fellow councillors.
The suggestion — part of the opposition Lib-Dems alternative budget, which goes before Oldham Council’s Scrutiny Committee today — would see the redevelopment of Royton town hall and town centre postponed for up to 12 months, saving around £253,000.
The proposals suggest certain projects - of which this is one - are a “lower priority than other projects within the capital programme.”
But the report adds that delaying the general town centre improvement could end up costing the council money.
Labour councillor for Royton South, Steven Bashforth, said: “I am absolutely amazed and astonished by the proposals. I’m not sure if they could delay the whole thing: much of the development is financed by Dransfield Proprties. It seems a bit peevish to halt the regeneration of the town hall.
“This could only be implemented if the Liberal Democrats did gain power. But if they did and then stopped the regeneration, I cannot see how they would ever win a seat in Royton again.”
Lib-Dem finance spokesman Councillor John McCann said: “These concerns are about the level of risk falling on the council and the repayment costs should the full £105 million expected borrowing materialise.”
The party fears that while interest rates are currently low, there are concerns about over-extending and repayment of around £7 million out of a reduced budget if rates go up.
“The stakes for our borough are high and should one major project fail or seriously overspend then much could be placed at risk, as the level of borrowing leaves little room for future manoeuvre,” he said.
Other plans in the Lib-Dem alternative budget include a reduction of elected members from 60 to 40, as well as a reduction in management and administration. Investments would be made to children’s services and local environment works. The proposals will be put to the council budget meeting on March 5.
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