Council slammed over timing of town centre announcement

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:06 26 October 2009

An artist's impression of the new-look town square

An artist's impression of the new-look town square

CRITICISM has been voiced at council chiefs who did not alert the public about the postponement of the project until the WHT approached them on May 1 – election day. Although the council admitted the delay as soon as we approached them, opponents have con

CRITICISM has been voiced at council chiefs who did not alert the public about the postponement of the project until the WHT approached them on May 1 - election day.

Although the council admitted the delay as soon as we approached them, opponents have condemned them for not revealing the plans ahead of last week's local elections.

Among the critics was Mike Hobday, Labour parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, who described the actions of the council as shameful.

He said: "It's also shocking that the news leaked out at 1pm on election day, as if to prevent local residents knowing the facts when they were voting in the council elections.

"If the news had been released just two days earlier, the press would have covered the story and local residents would have been aware of the Tory council's incompetence when they voted."

"This is a dreadful shock for local residents.

"The town centre features boarded up shops that would never be allowed in WGC.

"The borough council must care little about Hatfield to allow the town centre to be in such a sorry state."

MP Grant Shapps was also unaware of the issue until contacted by the WHT on Thursday.

Reader Joy Macdonald-Smith had made her own enquiries about the delay to the council, but received a response too late to alert anyone before the elections.

She added: "Not that I'm a cynic..."

* THE developers responsible for the regeneration of Hatfield town centre were unable to confirm the exact date the decision was made to delay the project.

Chiefs at St Modwen, who recently set up an office in neighbouring St Albans to oversee the £100m project, said that they were still "100 per cent committed" to the revamp.

Rupert Wood, regional manager for St Modwen said: "Due to the economic climate and uncertainty particularly in the retail market it is unlikely we will start work in 2008.

"We would like to start work by 2009, but we cannot say at this time.

"We're committed to the town centre and have a long contractual binding agreement with the council.

"We're in constant contact with council officers and we are in constant interaction.


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