Res­ig­na­tion call over Fire­pool site

Western Daily Press - - News - DANIEL MUMBY news@west­erndai­ly­

SOM­ER­SET coun­cil­lors have called for their leader’s res­ig­na­tion as they de­mand an­swers over the fu­ture of the be­lea­guered Fire­pool site in Taun­ton.

Plans for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the town cen­tre site were ap­proved in March, but have stalled af­ter de­vel­oper St Mod­wen pulled out at the end of Septem­ber.

A spe­cial full coun­cil meet­ing will take place in Taun­ton at which the fu­ture of the site and the wider ef­fort to re­gen­er­ate the county town will be dis­cussed.

Coun­cil leader John Wil­liams has said he has no in­ten­tion of re­sign­ing, say­ing the re­quest “flies in the face of rea­son”. He has called on coun­cil­lors to “seize the op­por­tu­nity” to shape the town’s fu­ture.

Coun­cil­lor Si­mon Coles, leader of the Lib­eral Demo­crat op­po­si­tion group, called for the spe­cial meet­ing to “con­sider the im­pli­ca­tions of [St Mod­wen’s with­drawal] on the eco­nomic and com­mer­cial fu­ture of our county town’s re­gen­er­a­tion”.

Mr Coles has called for Mr Wil­liams and deputy leader Mark Ed­wards to both stand down in light of the de­lays in re­gen­er­at­ing Taun­ton.

He has been sup­ported in this re­quest by five other bor­ough coun­cil­lors who rep­re­sent the Taun­ton area – Christo­pher Booth, Habib Far­bahi, for­mer mayor Mar­cia Hill, Jef­fer­son Horsley and Sue Lees.

Mr Coles said: “There is a des­per­ate need for new think­ing and trans­parency in the eyes of the pub­lic, as well as a gen­uine de­sire to bring for­ward the ben­e­fits of the River Tone run­ning through the heart of the county town.”

Mr Ed­wards tweeted on Mon­day that he was ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of build­ing a con­ven­tion and mu­sic venue on the Fire­pool site.

He posted: “Work­ing to­wards out­line pro­pos­als for a multi-use con­ven­tion, con­fer­ence and mu­sic venue at Fire­pool.

“Early days but ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions look­ing pos­i­tive.”

But speak­ing the fol­low­ing af­ter­noon, Mr Wil­liams added: “First and fore­most, it is ex­tremely re­gret­table that we are suf­fer­ing the de­lays ex­pe­ri­enced on Fire­pool, but there is much go­ing on in the terms of se­cur­ing plan­ning con­sent and as­sem­bling the site.

“Whilst this is on­go­ing we are re­view­ing what is best for Taun­ton, as I am aware that across the coun­cil there is this wish to ‘get it right’.

“St Mod­wen’s de­par­ture from the scene, which seems to have trig­gered the call for this spe­cial full coun­cil, can only be re­garded as an op­por­tu­nity and we seize this op­por­tu­nity to get it right.

“As for the call for Coun­cil­lor Ed­wards and me to re­sign, it does fly in the face of rea­son when so much has been achieved over the last eight years.

“As a coun­cil we have come through one of the worst re­ces­sions in liv­ing mem­ory plan­ning and in­vest­ing for the fu­ture, main­tain­ing vir­tu­ally all front-line ser­vices so val­ued by our com­mu­nity with £16.6 mil­lion saved for es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture and re­gen­er­a­tion across Taun­ton Deane.”

The spe­cial full coun­cil meet­ing will be held at Som­er­set County Cricket Club on Novem­ber 14 at 6.30pm.

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