In a press statement today Sedgemoor District Council has revealed the figure it received from the failed Tesco development on Bridgwater’s Northgate site was just over £5m whilst Somerset County Council received £3,5m, making a grand total of £8,886,700.
Westover Councillor Brian Smedley said “The veil of secrecy over members which was imposed on us first in September 2014 to prevent us telling the public that Tesco were pulling out and then to prevent us telling the public the compensation payment, has finally been lifted. And we wonder-as we have all along – what they were trying to hide when a simple FOI has forced their arm.”
The Sedgemoor statement reads ;-
Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council and Tesco Stores Ltd finalised a compensatory negotiation regarding the development of the Northgate site in Bridgwater on January 23rd. Within those negotiations, all parties signed a confidentiality clause. However, the councils have to balance the public interest in disclosure against the public interest in maintaining confidentiality.
Since January 23rd, Sedgemoor District Council has received six Freedom on Information requests on various aspects of the negotiations, which have been answered today.
The compensatory package amounted to:-
Somerset County Council – £3,562,420 with SCC retaining ownership of their land.
Sedgemoor District Council – £5,324,280 with SDC retaining ownership of their land. In 2009, Sedgemoor District Council agreed to ring fence capital receipts from the Northgate site towards funding the new pool at Chilton until the capital cost of delivering on this key priority was funded. Therefore, Sedgemoor’s share of the settlement figure has been spent to pay off the cost of the new pool.
Next steps – Northgate is a hugely important site to Bridgwater and SCC and SDC has already started thinking about next steps. Both authorities are committed to an outcome that is best for the site and the town, and which also fits with the financial and economic climate which is vastly different from that in 2008.
Firstly, both councils need to re-affirm with their members that they wish to dispose of their respective portions of the site.
Further consultation will be had with the public and key stakeholders, taking account of the need to deliver any new project at no cost, apart from feasibility funds, to Sedgemoor District Council and with no ongoing cost implications.
The timescale for delivering a positive outcome for the Northgate site will be submitted to both Councils for approval. Fuller consultation will take place subsequently.
Public Consultation needed now
Cllr Smedley added “Members have not in fact yet been consulted as to whether we wish to dispose of the site. Bridgwater Town Council and Sedgemoor Labour group have consistently opposed selling off the land, developing massive supermarkets on the site and have always argued the case for retaining the green space, leisure led development and a use complimentary to the town centre. It is more important than ever now that the people of the town are consulted. This is exactly why we have called a public meeting to discuss the future of Northgate and this will be held at Trinity Hall, St Saviours Avenue on Tuesday 24th March starting at 7.30. Sedgemoor and Somerset will both be sending senior Planning officers to the meeting.”