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.
The developer of Lichfield’s virtual Friarsgate shopping centre, U+I (Development Securities), claims that the redundancy of 24 workers at the Tempest Ford dealership evidences that a start on site has “materially commenced” for planning purposes.
Failure to demonstrate that a positive start has been made on the development by 27 May 2017 will trigger a reassessment of the financial viability of excluding affordable housing from the regeneration scheme.
A spokesman for U+I said:
‘Affordable housing is a curse on developer profit. By forcing the District Council to serve notice to quit on Tempest Ford under the terms of the development agreement we are able to avoid any inconvenient social housing issues being raised again.’
Burntwood mother of five under 4 year-olds Pauline Mycock has worked at Tempest Ford for the past 10 years, she said:
‘I can’t believe it, we were all given our redundancy notices today. How are we going to manage to feed our kids and pay our mortgages? We’ll probably be repossessed and have look to social housing. Oh, hang on a minute…’
Tempest Ford’s managing director Brian Carruthers says the decision by Lichfield District Council and its puppeteer Development Securities to require vacant possession by July 23 has come as a complete shock to him, he said:
‘This has come as a complete shock to me, the dealership has nowhere to go and therefore it has been forced to close. I’d only been given 10 years notice to make alternative arrangements, it’s a bloody disgrace.’
On the brighter side Mr Carruthers has announced a closing down sale:
‘I’m offering great staff discounts on used cars at the moment as part of our redundancy package. And for the more entrepreneurial any offers for my interest in the former Naturana site on Eastern Avenue would be most welcome.’
Dick King, director of Place and Community at Lichfield District Council, said:
‘Friarsgate is a complex £70 million scheme that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the city. We have now served notice to quit on Tempest Ford, laid waste the gateway to the City and thrown 24 citizens on the scrap heap in order to facilitate major works starting on virtual Friarsgate in September. I have accepted that this amounts to a “material start on site” by U+I for planning purposes.
‘But if something doesn’t start coming out of the ground in September then frankly we’re all fckd.’
Following the recent submission of a full planning application, the Friarsgate shopping centre redevelopment has come a step closer on the announcement that Lego is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for.
The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei where Lego was accused of censorship when it refused to sell bricks directly to him.
The company said its policy was to reject bulk requests if it believed that the resulting construction could tarnish its image.
Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk explained:
‘When we were approached by Lichfield developers with a preliminary enquiry as to the availability of our building materials were were initially reluctant to agree. Many other recent constructions in and around Lichfield have been based on our design concepts and incorporated our bricks. We are aware that this has aroused criticism locally and we feared a backlash.’
Now, following the Ai case, Lego has stated that they will no longer question customers as to the “thematic purpose” of their project.
Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox commented:
‘We are delighted with Lego’s decision. This will mean that the design of new city centre will sympathetically compliment our other historic buildings such as the Friary Car Park Apartments, the Premier Inn and not forgetting the Garrick Theatre.
‘And we can now cancel the proposed confiscation of lego bricks from the orphans of Burntwood and North Lichfield.’
Dean of Lichfield Cathedral The Very Very Reverend Friend of Fabricant Adrian Dorber was equally delighted, he said:
‘I am delighted that Lego is onboard. With the ease of modular construction this will mean that the height of the new buildings can be increased so as to completely block all lines of sight to Lichfield’s spires on most approaches to the city.’
Praise has also come from Orchard Street Investments, owner of the existing Three Spires Shopping centre, a spokesman commented:
‘We are equally delighted, with such thoughtful design input into the new build we are confident that this can only serve to increase the footfall in the direction of Three Spires.’
Anyone who wishes to comment on the development proposals can do so at http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk