Campaigners declare 'war' on Stoke-on-Trent City Council after Hanley HQ move is approved
CAMPAIGNERS have declared 'war' on a local authority after councillors refused to bow to public pressure and rethink plans to build a new £40 million civic headquarters.
Members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council last night voted to press ahead with relocating their HQ from Stoke to Hanley's new Central Business District. It came despite calls to refer the matter to a scrutiny committee for further debate.
Now protesters have vowed to continue their campaign against the move.
Richard Snell, from the Save Our Stoke group, described the latest setback as a 'skirmish'.
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The 67-year-old, from Stoke, said: "We won't stop just because they want us to. I've never been more disgusted at a council. Its behaviour towards the people of Stoke-on-Trent is appalling."
At last night's full council meeting, campaigners presented a 1,397-signature internet and paper petition to the authority.
Deputy council leader Paul Shotton said he appreciated the public's concerns.
But he accused opposition politicians of 'playing to the public gallery' in speaking out against the relocation at such a late stage.
And Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member in charge of regeneration, said: "We have to make these decisions. They are brave decisions. They may not be popular, but they will benefit our city."
The new HQ, which was granted planning permission earlier this week, will house more than 1,000 council staff.
It will be built on land between Broad Street and Warner Street, in Hanley, and will be funded through council borrowing.
Politicians argue that by becoming the 'anchor tenant' for the new business district, they will be able to lever in millions of pounds of private investment and attract jobs.
But protesters claim it will be a waste of money to relocate the civic centre – just a few years after it was moved from the same spot in Hanley to Stoke.
Independent councillor Randy Conteh said: "I'm a firm believer in scrutiny. This is the second time I've asked colleagues to get round the table and debate the issue. Let's let people have their say."
Campaigner Stephen Parsons, aged 46, from Blurton, said after the meeting: "If they go ahead with this, Stoke is going to be dead."