Walsall’s Labour group claim that after, what they describe as, three years of failed promises and unsuccessful negotiations, Walsall Council has committed £8 million to a flagship retail project with less than 24 hours notice.
Labour councillors were asked, at a special closed meeting, to pass the deal to revamp the Old Square Shopping Centre after being told the clock was ticking on 200 jobs, despite the lack of financial scrutiny and checks.
Labour group leader, Tim Oliver, commenting on the Tory led council’s last minute moved amounted to panic said his members were forced to vote against the proposal.
“Of course we are committed to bringing jobs to Walsall but what we were asked to do last night was to make a major financial commitment to buy the leasehold of the shopping centre with no proper checks on the impact to other businesses in the town centre or the risks for local tax payers.
“We asked for more information but were told the contracts had to be signed within 24 hours otherwise the deal would fall through.
“We couldn’t make a safe decision on whether this was an opportunity or potential burden for council tax payers. Last night’s meeting, held behind closed doors, was a panic move by a council leadership which has had three years to deliver this project and has failed to do so.”