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Concerns over rentals at Wolverhampton's £50m Westside development

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

Concerns have been raised over the risk to Wolverhampton Council of renting out units for the £50 million Westside development.

An artists' impression of the Westside development

The authority, under new arrangements, will take part of the responsibility to let out stalls once the new site is complete.

Independent member John Humphries, who sits on the Audit and Risk Committee, said the move had opened up the council to both risk and reward.

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The report said: "Risks are being managed across the city centre programme to address the potential for delayed delivery and cost overrun.

"A revised funding strategy for the delivery of the Westside Leisure scheme has now been agreed.

"As previously reported the new arrangement gives the council part of the responsibility to occupy the scheme and will in turn provide an opportunity to generate rental income.

"Contract negotiations are progressing well and heads of terms for the revised structure have been agreed."

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Exposure

Mr Humphries, who has been co-opted to sit on the committee, said: "I know there's been new arrangements to the scheme, which my upstanding is that we will act as a sub-landlord for some of the units – which brings reward and risk."

The independent member also called for the risk to be incorporated into the council's risk register – and asked what level of "exposure" the council had been put at.

But Claire Nye, director of finances in the city, said appropriate measures had been put in place to protect the council from the financial risks involved.

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Hayley Reid, senior auditor at Wolverhampton Council, added: "Westside has its own project risks and once again they are reviewed and obviously it will be reviewed on an ongoing basis."

Bosses at Wolverhampton Council said the scheme, which features a cinema, mini golf, 10-pin bowling and restaurants, will bring an estimated £6.5 million boost to the economy.

It will also help to bring new jobs and raise business rates income to the council.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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