Walsall Council must answer questions over £14m purchase of Saddlers Centre
The Walsall North MP is right to be asking serious questions about the borrowing of £13.8m by the Labour controlled Walsall Council for the flawed purchase the Saddlers Shopping Centre.
The Council's attempt to ‘draw down the shutters’ and deny the MP the information he quite rightly seeks, suggests that the council has something to hide.
At the private meeting where the decision was made (Monday 7th August 2017) no mention was made at that meeting, in written reports or otherwise of the £2m plus loss that the Saddlers Centre had made the previous year.... so can we assume that the councillors making the decision to borrow and purchase were blissfully unaware of the state of the finances surrounding the Centre or did some members and officers know about this all along?
Why did this not come out at the meeting?
More on Walsall Council's purchase of the Saddlers Centre:
- £2.8m loss shock: Questions raised over council purchase
- Cash-strapped Walsall Council to spend more than £13 million buying Saddlers Shopping Centre
- Eddie Hughes MP: Walsall Council must come clean on Saddlers Centre deal
I hope that the MP doggedly pursues this and that concerned Walsall borough councillors, do likewise.
I also hope that the MP for Walsall South, in whose constituency the centre stands, also starts to ask some serious questions.
The Labour leadership at the time of the decision to purchase and shortly afterwards, seemed to indicate that this was going to be a ‘magical money tree’ to provide extra funds for social care, mental health facilities and all sorts of other services.
So let's see the evidence as to whether this is happening!
At the time of purchase there were at least six empty retail units in the centre. Four months after the takeover by Walsall Council, there remains the same number of empty units.
Let's see what future months bring.
This is an issue that will not go away until many unanswered questions are addressed to the satisfaction of elected members and more importantly the taxpayers of Walsall borough.
Blakenall ward resident, former Councillor and Mayor of Walsall 2014/15