09:42AM, Thursday 27 September 2018
The council leader accused ‘backstabbing’ councillors of trying to stop the town centre regeneration during a heated debate on Tuesday.
The row came during a full council meeting as Conservative and opposition councillors clashed over plans for a 1,300-space car park to replace the 700-space Broadway Car Park.
Subject to planning permission, and the completion of the 500-space multi-storey in Vicus Way, the current car park will be demolished in January 2020, with the replacement to be complete in January 2022.
Council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) called it ‘the car park of my dreams’, but Cllr Geoff Hill (Ind Con, Oldfield) raised concerns over the capital budget spend on the car park rising from £8million to £35million.
He said: “How did you identify the need for an extra 600-700 spaces?
“If you can’t fill the spaces you can’t turn over the revenue to pay for the car park.
“This was forecast at £8m and it has now risen to £35m. You are spending money like toilet paper.
“My challenge is, does this car park wash its face? I can’t see that it does.”
Despite giving it his overall support, Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) accused the council of overspending and called the council leader ‘Simon Socialist’.
He said: “You are almost acting like socialists at the moment. I don’t know whether [cabinet member for finance] Cllr Saunders is a socialist or Simon [Cllr Dudley] is a socialist. This council is acting like Jeremy Corbyn’s best buddy.
“People trust Conservatives to conserve money and look after it but you are not doing a very good job and ratcheting up the debt.
“I want assurances from Simon Socialist and Cllr Saunders that you don’t keep running into overspend.”
Cllr Dudley accused the opposition of playing political ‘games’ over the town centre regeneration.
He said: “This town, the borough, has been waiting for regeneration in Maidenhead for decades.
“No amount of carping, negativity, political games or backstabbing is going to stop it. When the electorate comes to vote in May 2019 they can vote for the Conservatives, who will deliver the regeneration of this town, or vote for other people, who just want to play games.”
Cllr Bicknell, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for transport, added: “This is not for the faint-hearted, this is for a tough, strong administration that is prepared to put the plans on the table, that’s what we are doing.
“This is inspirational and full of energy.”
Following the debate, the majority of councillors agreed to approve the release of £27million additional capital funds to pay for the car park.
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