THE final decision on the location of Chester City Council’s new offices could be taken by just one senior Town Hall figure.
After months of pre-election controversy and behind- closed-doors meetings about the future of the ‘glass slug’ on Gorse Stacks, it has emerged that council boss Chris Hardy, who took over from departing chief executive Paul Durham, is likely to be authorised to take the decision.
He will be required to consult council leader Margaret Parker (Con, Mickle Trafford), deputy leader Stephen Mosley (Con, Handbridge & St Mary’s), development chief Mike Jones (Con, Tattenhall) and resources supremo Richard Short (Con, Curzon & Westminster).
The arrangement, thrashed out in secret at a special meeting of the Town Hall Executive on Monday, was due to be agreed, again in secret, at a special full council meeting last night (Thursday).
Leading opposition Lib Dems reacted angrily earlier in the week to the possibility the decision would involve only a small group of councillors. They say opposition councillors ‘are again being gagged by legal threats to prevent them revealing the details of the damaging proposals’.
‘I thought local government had long ago moved away from the culture of making dodgy decisions in darkened rooms and hoping the public never found out,’ said deputy Lib Dem leader Cllr Graham Proctor (Vicars Cross).
Lib Dem leader Paul Roberts (Farndon) said: ‘I am shocked the Tories are so keen to take this key decision in such a secretive manner.’
Councillors have been sent a highly confidential report on the £400m Northgate development and proposals for the new council offices. The council says 20 potential buildings and sites have been narrowed down to a shortlist, but their location cannot be made public yet for commercial and legal reasons.