Stoke-on-Trent City Council hits back in row on new Hanley HQ
A CAMPAIGN to reverse public opposition to a new city council HQ was launched today ahead of a meeting where opposition councillors are calling for the scheme to be scrapped.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council today publishes a double-page advertisement in The Sentinel newspaper in a bid to build support for its relocation to Hanley.
Opposition councillors will table a motion calling for the plans to be ditched at a council meeting tonight.
The proposed Central Business District (CBD) is designed to create 4,500 jobs as it expands in six phases over 10 years to include six office blocks, ground floor shops and cafes and two hotels.
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The need for new premium office space to attract more white collar firms to the city is largely undisputed and has the support of prominent business leaders.
But the council's decision to build and occupy the first two buildings – loaning up to £55 million and vacating its base in Stoke – has become one of the most controversial in its history.
Leaders have pressed ahead with the plans in the face of major public opposition due to their belief that the CBD and proposed City Sentral shopping complex will revive the city's fortunes.
Council and Labour leader Mohammed Pervez said: "The Tory government continues to cut our funding in a manner that threatens the very existence of the council and we need to plan for the future which is in jobs and growth.
"The council's move to the city centre will open new opportunities for Stoke town to draw in new businesses and housing growth."
Unaffiliated councillor Paul Breeze, supported by the City Independents, will present tonight's motion tonight calling on the council to scrap its plans.
He said: "The council, the chief executive and the officers are not taking any real notice of the people of the city. There has been no discussion, no debate and no real consultation over what is a major change of identity.
"There is a real groundswell of opposition. I can't walk down the street without somebody stopping to ask what the council is playing at. The public just don't want it. Politically, I think Labour is writing the longest suicide note in its history."
Thousands of residents and traders have signed petitions against the relocation.
Staffordshire entrepreneur Martin Peet, founder of the Mr Simms' Olde Sweet Shoppe chain, said he will 'have a decision to make' when the lease on his Stoke store expires later this year.
He said: "It will decimate Stoke. It's Potteries' people's money being wasted. The buildings in Stoke will not be sold. They will end up being knocked down. The whole strategy is wrong."