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.
Local planning officers are celebrating another victory over their arch enemies on the Planning Committee of Lichfield District Council.
Despite planning officers recommendation to grant Revelan Group’s proposals for 77 homes on land off Eastern Avenue, the application was unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee in February.
Revelan appealed and the Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the Council’s decision. Development is now expected to start on site in 2015.
Simon Hawley of planning consultants Harris Lamb, acted on behalf of Revelan, he said:
‘This former industrial site has been vacant since 2007 and despite the Council’s belief that it would be the subject of intense interest from potential business occupiers we have managed to sign-up not a single tenant.
‘Now that we have residential planning we’ll be completing the sale of the site to a national house builder by Christmas.’
Chair of Lichfield District Council’s Planning Committee, local car mechanic Councillor Helen Fisher said:
‘We’re obviously disappointed that the Inspectorate chose to support the professional planning officer’s recommendation to grant consent, but just without the £300,000 contribution to local schools that Revelan would have paid if we had granted the application in the first place.’
The company proposed a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced housing with an affordable housing provision that is likely to appeal only to railway enthusiasts and those who appreciate natural water features in their living room.
The Council’s rejection of the plan hinged on it’s concern about loss of “employment land” but LDC’s own Employment Land Review had actually revealed the district has an excessive quantity of suitable employment sites. Councillor Fisher commented:
‘Yep, they got us banged to rights with that one. Are they out of time to make an application for costs?’
Dick King, Lichfield District Council’s Strategic Director of Democratic, Development and Legal commented:
‘I’m delighted that I am always right, but you’ll have to excuse me, I need to focus on another round of compulsory redundancies for council staff.’