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Lib Dems demand reassurances about Crescent Gardens

December 22, 2018 4:57 PM
As we come to the end of 2018 the sale of the former Council offices at Crescent Gardens is still to be resolved. Every week that this goes on means that more Council Tax payers' money is being lost. Our Lib Dem Councillors are keeping up the pressure and continue to ask questions about what is going on.
Lib Dem group leader on Harrogate Borough Council, Cllr Pat Marsh, writes:
Pat Marsh (Pat Marsh/HBC)
"At the Council meeting last week I posed the following question to the Leader of the Council:
"The marketing of Crescent Gardens started in 2014 and where are we now as we go into 2019 (nowhere). The first marketing failed and on the second marketing Mr Thorpe was chosen as the preferred bidder in September 2016 and contracts exchanged March 2017. The timetable for the conditional contract was that everything was to be completed by late summer 2018 and yet we still have nothing happening and Mr Thorpe has now been given a further 6 months to get his act together.
Mr Thorpe has missed deadline after deadline and has had them extended by this Council. Now enough is enough the people of this District need assurances that their building is sold and developed in a quality, timely manner. Therefore can I seek assurances from the Leader of the Council that this Council does not extend the timeline on the contract it has with Adam Thorpe with regards to the purchase of Crescent Gardens?"
The Leader handed the response to Cllr Swift and he was unwilling to give that assurance, instead referring to the fact that I have been involved in decision making and missing the point in that I wanted to be assured that there would be no more extension of deadlines. I did not receive that so I am unhappy for the residents of this District who surely cannot feel confident on Crescent Gardens being sold and developed.
The Lib Dems also raised a question about information with regards to the financial history of the preferred developer and asked why Members were not fully informed of that before making a decision. We did ask Officers questions on the financial position of the preferred bidder at the time and were given assurances that a thorough financial investigation had been undertaken but we were not informed of important pertinent information from Companies House.
Why do Cllrs Cooper and Swift not want to reassure the residents of this District that Crescent Gardens will be developed by Mr Thorpe by March next year or let residents know what actions they will take if that does not happen?
Cllr Cooper was also asked a question about the state of the new Civic Centre with severe leaks in 2 rooms, repainting of the stairwells and unsafe external steps. The reasons given for the stairwell was that the product used had been found wanting after the Grenfell Tower disaster and the external steps had the wrong product used and were slippery.
Whilst I certainly support making these areas safe why has it taken a year to discover this? The tragedy of Grenfell Tower occurred in June 2017 and the stairwells were originally decorated in November 2017. Why has a whole year has past with unsafe stairwells and steps? What else will fail in this one year old building?"