Scrutiny news

26th September, 2011

Ross Willmott

Last Thursday was the third meeting of the Overview Select Committee and here is a brief digest. The committee spent most of the time examining the council’s accommodation strategy: or what shall we do with New Walk Centre? We were presented with much the same information as we had seen a year ago however persistent questioning brought forth a few snippets. We will now know the fate of the benighted buildings by the 31st Dec 2011. Members of scrutiny overwhelmingly endorsed demolishing both buildings asap. Perhaps this will be our xmas present from santa? Along with propping up the buildings or just A Block, rebuilding on the existing site, or on Dover St, or buying the Mercury building, we also learnt that there will a 6th option considered,  ‘Dispersal’. It seems unlikely that there will be much progress on the refurbishment of the former Bishop St Post Office as our new customer service centre despite support for this. It was pointed out by one councillor that if we were to press ahead with the planned relocation from Collegiate House, the saving achieved would pay 25% of the cost of moving to the Mercury building. It takes us a quarter of the way to a potential solution?

Consideration of the Humberstone Gate improvements took an interesting route to a discussion about the new bus station. Whilst fully supporting the improvement proposal Councillors were concerned that it would not really solve the issues presented by buses and these could only really be addressed with a new bus station. There was a fear that the government might release money for some capital projects and that because the council was not prepared to bid Leicester would lose the money. The committee resolved to request the Mayor to bring forward proposals for capital schemes that would benefit the city, so that we don’t miss out.

What about combining the need for new HQ offices for the Council with the need for a new bus station, suggested one councillor.

Thanks to all those who contributed, and the one member of the executive present, (name omitted to comply with new editorial policy from upstairs) who made a valiant effort to field all questions, from the definition of Newton Metres Squared to whether or not the city should bid for a new bus station!

 

ps Depite rumours to the contrary from our political scribe, I was not posing for my statue in Pisa, but was here in Leicester all week.

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