LABOUR accused the Tories of displaying “secrecy and darkness” in a TV programme spotlighting the proposed sale of County Hall.
Cllr Reg Jones (Lab, Blacon), on the BBC’s Politics Show, criticised the Conservative administration’s plans to sell County Hall to Chester University for £10m and move into the office within the new HQ building for £20m.
But the Tory leadership says the opposition line is predictable and that it is operating the same democratic system employed by Labour when it was in power at the town hall.
Cllr Reg Jones said: “It’s my view, and the view of many, that since the beginning of the new authority the culture that’s been developed is one of secrecy and one of darkness.”
The councillor said the authority should consider refurbishing County Hall to make it fit for purpose which he believed would cost a lot less than the Conservative’s “fictitious” figure of up to £15m.
Colleague and Labour leader Derek Bateman (Central and Westminster) agreed secrecy was all pervading.
He said: “We are not being told lots of things. If it wasn’t for the one-to-one meetings with the chief exec there is a lot of things we would not know about.”
But Tory council leader Mike Jones (Broxton) said all the minutes of decisions around the deal for both public and private sessions were available “for people to look at”.
He accused Reg Jones of “failing miserably” to get involved in the democratic process of the new authority.
Arguing the property deal represented good value, the council leader said: “The value for money is based on the need take a £15m loan out to buy the building. When we sell the other buildings we move out of, we will make further revenue savings and the sale of those buildings will pay the capital.”