Cllr Ann Norman, Conservative Spokesperson for Tourism, Development, and Culture Committee, has today spoken of her exasperation on hearing the news residents must, again, face delays in getting the King Alfred Leisure Centre site, Hove, redeveloped.
Speaking outside Hove Town Hall Cllr Norman said “It’s deplorable that this chaotic Labour Administration has let down the residents of our city, yet again, by their failure to progress the redevelopment of the King Alfred Site.”
Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC), which is run by the Labour Party, issued the following press release:
“Following formal confirmation of funding in September from the Housing Infrastructure Fund the council has been working with Crest Nicholson Regeneration to conclude the development agreement.
“The council wrote to the developer earlier this month to ask them to confirm their commitment to the delivery of the King Alfred scheme. We have received a response from Crest that restates their commitment but which is seeking a little more time to further update their viability appraisals. The council continues to be in contact with them and we are expecting a more detailed response shortly.
“In parallel with the developer’s ongoing viability review, the council will meet with them to agree options for progressing delivery of the scheme. We remain committed to ensuring a scheme which delivers a new leisure centre and pool complex for Hove alongside a significant housing development
“We will provide an update on the project at the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee on 6 December.”
Conservatives Question Chaotic Labour Administration
At a meeting of Full Council, on October 18th 2018, Conservative Councillor Robert Nemeth (Member of The King Alfred Project Board) submitted a formal written question to the Labour Administration asking:
“Given the estimated £669,000 that has already been expended by the Council on the latest King Alfred project (£409,000 officer costs and £260,000 consultant costs), what further costs are envisaged between now and project completion, and are such funds already in place?”
Flippant & Vague Response
The reply he received from Labour Leader of the council Dan Yates was worryingly lacking in actual figures and almost flippantly vague:
“As with the expenditure profile to date, activity and therefore cost to the Council is dependent on the phase the project has reached. Subject to completion of the Development Agreement in the coming months, the cost to the Council during the next two years is expected to be akin to that incurred during the past year. As with all projects managed by the Council’s Major Projects Team, resource requirements are reviewed at least annually and financial resources are allocated as part of the budget setting process. The King Alfred project is one of the Council’s strategic priorities. Appropriate financial provision has therefore been made and this is considered to be sufficient based on the currently anticipated delivery timetable.”
The Conservative Councillor for Central Hove – the Ward in which the King Alfred site is situated – Cllr Andrew Wealls, said yesterday “It’s utterly disgraceful that the Labour Administration have taken their eye off the ball. These chronic delays are threatening the viability of the entire project.” As a dedicated campaigner for the residents and businesses in his Ward, Andrew has long been an advocate of positive development in this area. He went on to say “Hove deserves better than chaotic Labour shower. Clearly in-fighting takes precedence over the interests of our great city and its residents. The people of Brighton and Hove deserve better, and I expect they will be giving Labour a massive thumbs down next May.”
Between 600 and 700 flats are proposed for this site. If we use an average council tax bill for these properties of £1,500 per annum (Current Band D 2018/19 is £1,805.98) – A delay of one year means £1,050,000 of lost revenue for our city. To date an estimated £409,000 of BHCC Officer time has been accrued alongside £260,000 of consultants fees. These figures do not include business rates from the proposed outlets and already we are looking at significant sums of money that money could have mitigated Labour’s Council Tax increase in this year’s budget. We’re just waiting to see which Labour Administration Councillor will do the honourable thing and resign over this shocking state of affairs.