By Ian Dipple Friday 20 September 2013 Updated: 20/09 08:53
LABOUR have been accused of performing a u-turn by deciding to sell the former Redi Centre on the open market.
Coun Brandon Clayton, deputy leader of the Conservative group on Redditch Borough Council, questioned why considering Labour’s objection to his party’s decision to close the centre in December 2010 they were not looking to offer it to a community group first.
The decision to sell the South Street building was approved at an executive committee meeting on Tuesday (September 17) after officers told councillors there had been interest from businesses but no firm offers and putting it on the market was the best option.
But Coun Clayton said it appeared the decision to sell had been made in conjunction with the county council’s decision to put the neighbouring Youth House up for sale and the community had not been considered.
“It seems to me it doesn’t matter what anybody says about a community group or anybody else, it’s been decided you are going to sell it,” he said.
“You were so critical of us but now you have a chance to put it right and give it to a community group.”
But councillors were told officers had not been aware of the county council’s decision at the time the recommendation was made and property agents had advised them there was no advantage in developing both sites together. It was also revealed in the last two years no community group had tried to register the building as a community asset which would give them the right to bid first before commercial developers. A suggestion the site would be used for social housing was also rejected.
Coun Rebecca Blake hit back at the Conservatives accusing them of ‘rewriting history’ and said Coun Clayton and Conservative group leader Coun Juliet Brunner were guilty of failing to support the community’s bid to takeover the youth house when they were county councillors.
Deputy council leader Greg Chance added: “When the Redi Centre closed it ripped the heart out of the building and part of the heart out of the community, the only problem was the Conservative group at the time forgot to bury the body, they forgot to sell the building.
“What I really hope is somebody steps up to the plate that can run that building as a community asset and in a way that will serve the community.
“If that doesn’t happen, the building is costing us money and serving no-one so the right and proper thing to do would be to sell it but I would rather see it run as a community asset.”
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