A call to oppose the exclusion of the press and public before Shropshire Council debates the future of Shrewsbury’s Shopping Centres next Thursday has been made by the Leader of Shropshire Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor David Vasmer (Underdale).
“It’s a disgrace,” commented Cllr Vasmer. “£51 million was spent by Shirehall’s Tories on buying Shrewsbury’s shopping centres and now they are worth just over £12m – that’s a loss of nearly £39m. Just think of the improvements that could have been made, not just in Shrewsbury, but throughout Shropshire with that sort of money.”
“Now adding insult to injury, the latest plans for the shopping centres will be debated in private at Shropshire’s Council Meeting next Thursday. Plans that were going to be debated in open session have now been circulated privately to councillors who will vote on a motion to exclude the press and public before they are debated in private.”
“I will be urging councillors of all parties who believe in open government to oppose the motion to exclude the press and public next Thursday. I will also be calling for a named vote so that Shropshire’s residents can see how their councillor has voted.
“There is one reason for the shopping centres being discussed in private – they are an embarrassment for Shirehall’s Tories who have squandered millions but plead poverty when residents want something done.
“Their financial mismanagement knows no bounds and makes a mockery of the Council’s much vaunted commitment to value for money and decisions based on intelligence! Another commitment is to continuously improve performance – but the opposite seems to be the case.
“Something is seriously wrong in Shirehall. We have years of plans being scrapped or changed radically. Road trials in Shrewsbury have been halted mid trial or even before they have started. Only a few years ago, Shirehall was to have a glamour makeover with shops and for let offices. Then the civic centre was to go into Pride Hill. Now it will go elsewhere but we councillors are not allowed to tell the public or the press what the latest ideas are.
“That’s why we are calling for the paper on the shopping centres to be published before the council meeting. Everyone in Shrewsbury and across the county has the right to see what is being proposed. They have a right to discuss it with their local councillor before any decisions are made at next Thursday’s council meeting.”