The design of Lichfield’s fabled Friarsgate shopping centre development may be hopelessly dated by the time it is completed claims a local historian.
Amateur time-detective Caitlin Gonzalez has expressed concerns that the plans for Lichfield’s cutting edge retail offer will be outdated by the time that the development emerges Phoenix-like from the ashes of the Conservative District Council dreams. Mrs Gonzalez said:
‘I’ve been going through the local history archives hoping to find a photograph or drawing of a tree root that resembles a goblin’s todger, but to my delight I happened across the original planning application for the fabled Friarsgate Shopping centre dating back to 1962.’
The long awaited City centre regeneration has been derailed on many occasions by external events well beyond the control of the District Council, claims current Council leader Mike Wiltcox. He said:
‘The original plans were put on hold in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and again in 1963 as a mark of respect for JFK. The Space Race in the ‘60’s meant that all public funding for Lichfield was diverted into the effort to land Man on the Moon before the end of the decade. And so it went on, none of the delays have been the fault of the Council.’
Further delays are now expected as the Council consider putting back three strategically important milestones in the optimistically-named Development Agreement.
As part of the Lichfield Festival the Council has commissioned local sculptor and artist Peter Walker to create three commemorative milestones. The artist commented:
‘These milestones will be symbolic and will be a visual demonstration of the Council’s commitment to keeping the Friarsgate project on the road to success. I can reveal that the first one called “Lichfield 4 miles”, originally located on the A51 at Packington will now be reimagined and installed on the A5 at Atherstone. Yes, we’re on the right road but it may take longer than expected.’
The Council declined to reveal the proposed locations of the two remaining milestones as this was commercially sensitive and could have an impact on the financial viability of the Council.
(Friarsgate design courtesy of the Francis Frith collection )
Richard Upton, Deputy CEO of Friarsgate developer U+I Group, has confirmed that he will be taking up the post of Leader of the Council effective from 1 August 2017. Mr Upton said:
‘I am delighted to accept my generous demand of the Council and I’m looking forward to taking up my new post on 1 August. I will be continuing in my role as Deputy CEO of U+I as I understand that the position of Leader traditionally entails the expenditure of very little time, talent or effort.’
Outgoing Leader Cllr Mike Wiltcox commented:
‘I am delighted that Richard has decided to accept his offer to sack me as Leader, although I will continue to fulfill my role as Conservative councillor for Fradley as this also entails the expenditure of very little time, talent or effort.’
Richard Dicking, Lichfield’s strategic director of democratic, development and legal added:
‘Mr Upton has appointed the best man for the job. This will complete U+I’s takeover of all Council business and ensure the smooth running of the Cabinet and all Committees. We will no longer have to waste time submitting Council meeting Agendas to U+I’s “Commercial Sensitivity and Financial Viability Committee” for prior approval. Richard Upton will exercise delegated powers from U+I to control all aspects of Lichfield business.’
There has been increasing disquiet at the number of occasions where the public has been excluded from parts of Council meetings on the grounds of “commercial sensitivity”. Commentators have been left wondering what can possibly be commercially sensitive about Council car parking charges or the location of the Tourist Information office.
Mr Upton said:
‘I can’t comment on individual agenda items that have been discussed in secret, other than to say that they related to commercially sensitive matters for U+I that could affect the financial viability of U+I.
‘However I will be addressing these concerns directly as soon as I take office.
‘In future there will be no prior publication of Agendas or briefing notes, all Council meetings will be held in secret and no minutes will be kept. Now fuck off out of my office.’
LibDem Cllr Paul Ray welcomed the announcement, he said:
‘If all Council business is conducted in camera, as we lawyers like to say, that’ll give me the perfect excuse not to attend any meetings. No change there then at least.’
Five Spires Live has not bothered to contact anyone for comment.