Warwick District Council leader Cllr Andrew Day has asked Leamington MP Matt Western to 'stop playing political games with the regeneration of town' over his outspoken opposition to plans for the authority to relocate its current HQ.
Earlier in the month Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western publicly demanded that Warwick District Council reveals the amount of taxpayers' money it spent on its now-scrapped contract agreement with a private company as part of its controversial HQ relocation plans
And Cllr Day (Con, Bishops Tachbrook) has now responded to Mr Western over the issue.
The district council leader said: "We all know that town centres across the country are facing significant challenges.
"This is particularly true for Leamington.
"In response, Warwick District Council is working with a range of partner organisations to develop schemes for the regeneration of our beautiful town.
"This work is too important to be used as a political ‘punching bag’ by Mr Western.
"The New HQ, Covent Garden car park, Riverside House and Creative Quarter regeneration schemes not to mention the plans for delivering the Commonwealth Games, transforming the railway station into a fully functioning transport hub and tackling air pollution could potentially transform the town, boosting footfall and the retail offering while enhancing amenities for all our residents.
"Tens of millions of pounds of investment by the council, other public sector partners and selected developers could, if secured, create jobs and provide much needed public facilities.
"Our current MP, Matt Western, knows full well that the council has paid nothing “in wasted project costs and fees to PSP” for the HQ relocation, Covent Garden car park and Riverside House projects.
"He is well aware that PSP, not the council, has met the development costs in bringing forward these proposals, because I told him so when we met on 6 August.
"Matt understands exactly how the LLP works and far from the relationship being ‘secret’ or beyond scrutiny, he himself has had meetings directly with PSP, been given one-to-one briefings on key reports dating back to 2016 and every opportunity to review the workings of the LLP.
"At our meeting last month, in an attempt to ‘reset’ the relationship, I also shared with Matt that this new council was carefully reviewing the merits of the Limited Liability Partnership, given that it had so far been unable to deliver on its contractual obligations necessary to make the schemes viable.
"I was open about the fact that we’re considering all options to deliver the maximum public benefit and when this new council has reached a considered view on what will happen next, then he along with other stakeholders will be fully briefed on the plans. Until then, it is ‘business as usual’.
"That’s the truth of the matter, nothing more, nothing less; no conspiracies, no mis-management - exactly what was announced in our press release.
"There is however, a wider more serious issue that this exchange highlights about the health of our local democracy:
"This new council administration was created by the Conservative and the Whitnash Residents’ Association political groups.
"It is an alliance which has from the outset sought to work in a collaborative way and I’m delighted that all political groups are sharing positively in this co-operative approach.
"That doesn’t mean that we’ll agree on all things, but I’m convinced that the extra effort required to engage in constructive cross-party debate will generate better decisions and deliver improved outcomes for our residents.
"Matt Western is well aware that all political groups in the new council have been engaged in considering the PSP/LLP relationship.
"Council officers have given detailed briefings to the leaders of each political group and the matter has been carefully reviewed by our two scrutiny committees, which are chaired by Labour and Green Councillors.
My concern is that a similar co-operative approach has not been established with Matt Western.
"For the record, I’ve not received a letter from him raising concerns about PSP, as he claims.
"It was also disappointing that having shared the PSP Press Release with him in advance of publication and invited Matt to a call should he have any questions, he chose to ignore my offer and instead seized the opportunity to launch a self-serving political attack.
"I had hoped for more from our MP and was genuinely trying to establish a constructive partnership.
"I was also disappointed at Matt’s recent disparaging response to Leamington’s success in winning a hard-fought selection for the government’s Better High Street Fund.
"I do appreciate that the current febrile political atmosphere may not encourage a more collaborative approach.
"However, I have a first-hand understanding of the significant personal commitment made by our elected representatives in serving the community.
"Through that shared bond, I remain hopeful that political point scoring can be put aside and we can find a way to establish a more constructive relationship for the benefit of all our residents.
"If we can learn from this unfortunate exchange, then just maybe a way can be found for Matt Western and Warwick District Council to work together in a spirit of genuine co-operation to deliver this important regeneration programme. "