A Conservative councillor has slammed what he calls “a catalogue of blunders” which have held up the King Alfred development, and which he says have cost the city £3million in lost council tax.
Councillor Robert Nemeth is calling for fellow members to formally censure the Labour administration in a notice of motion he is proposing at tomorrow’s (Thursday 12 December) council meeting.
The Hove councillor, who has asked repeated formal questions about progress on the site since 2015, is also demanding Labour appoint a named councillor to oversee the project.
Councillor Nemeth said: “I can’t think what exactly the Labour administration has been doing over the past three years to make this go so slowly.
“I personally would have given Crest the boot if they hadn’t signed on the line within a month of being picked in January 2016.
“Through a catalogue of blunders, the administration has allowed Crest to land-bank the King Alfred site for free – and wasted something like £3 million in the process.
“Had there been a councillor actually overseeing the process, or even a cross-party project board in place, all of this could have been avoided.”
Crest Nicholson was appointed as the preferred developer by the authority’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee in January 2016.
The original deal was supposed to be formally signed that summer – but after missing multiple deadlines a final deadline of 31 January next year was agreed at this month’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee.
Rising costs were blamed for the delay, even after £15 million was offered by the government through the Housing Infrastructure Fund towards the costs of the £400 million project.
In the background information to his notice of motion, Councillor Nemeth has pointed out no meetings of the King Alfred Project Board have taken place since mid-2016.
His motion states: “Each year of delay comes with an opportunity cost of approximately £1 million in uncollected council tax.
“Approximately £800,000 has already been spent by the council in pursuing the project.”
Speaking at the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on 6 December, Council leader Councillor Daniel Yates said: ““This is not the first time a development has not proceeded on the King Alfred site.
“I am hoping this is the final solution for the King Alfred site and I am not going to turn it into a political football.”
Councillors will debate the notice of motion at the full council meeting at Hove Town Hall from 4.30pm on Thursday 13 December.
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