Council Responds to Criticism

To further develop the story in the last two blogs and to be fair to Ceredigion Council (and as a scoop for this blog), see below two letters released by the Council today. The first letter has been sent to County Councillors, the second to the Cambrian News.

Dear Councillor, Re: Cambrian News Article

I read with disappointment, but no surprise, the headlines in the Cambrian News “15 shops at risk in Debenhams deal”.

Can I reassure you that the information provided to you at our meeting on 14th January 2009 is correct. There is no deal with Debenhams and it is not the intention of the County Council to take responsibility to promote the redevelopment and to buy the shops and premises as intimated in the newspaper. This is a private sector initiative which may, at some future date if negotiation fail to secure the site require the support of the County Council in using its Compulsory Purchase Powers (CPO), but only as a means of last resort.

I intend to arrange a meeting with Aberystwyth Town Council and with the local traders who may possibly be affected by the scheme, and explain this situation and the position of the County Council.

Please find attached a letter of response from Councillor Eurfyl Evans, to the Editor of the Cambrian News.

Kind regards

Prif Weithredwr Cynorthwyol
Adran y Prif Weithredwr Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron,Ceredigion, Cymru SA46 0PA

Assistant Chief Executive
Chief Executive DepartmentNeuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron,Ceredigion, Wales SA46 0PA

Beverly Davies
Editor, Cambrian News
7 Aberystwyth Science Park
Ceredigion, SY23 3AH
25th February 2009

Dear Madam

I refer to the article and headlines concerning the redevelopment of Aberystwyth’s Town Centre in the Cambrian News edition of 25 February 2009.

It is regrettable, in the extreme, that despite having received a full copy of the relevant Cabinet Report in advance of the meeting of Ceredigion's Cabinet on Tuesday 24 February 2009, your publication has apparently failed both to understand and, subsequently, accurately report its contents.

Your paper’s headline statement suggested a “deal” having been done. The report clearly stated “Debenhams’ has confirmed an interest in this opportunity, but the configuration and size of the existing post office site cannot accommodate their requirements. To meet their requirements it will be necessary for the developer to acquire adjoining properties to assemble a larger site.” There was – and remains – no suggestion of Ceredigion County Council having made any deal whatsoever, either with Debenhams or any other department store. Ceredigion County Council is not the developer, the report clearly explained: "The local developer site owner has recently entered into a joint venture partnership with a national developer that is well connected with national retail companies and experienced in this form of development."

Your paper’s article proceeded to allege “The Council wants to buy shops …..”. Actually, the report clearly stated: “It is recommended that Cabinet recommends to Council the use of CPO powers to achieve the aforementioned proposals should private treaty negotiations prove unsuccessful.” That is precisely what the Cabinet decided to do.

Ceredigion County Council remains concerned that everyone is kept informed of the situation and, having reported the outline proposals to Ceredigion’s Cabinet, Ceredigion’s Corporate Strategies and Regeneration Unit is now proceeding to arrange meetings with Aberystwyth Town Council and with local traders who may possibly be affected by the development scheme, to accurately report the decision of Ceredigion’s Cabinet.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Eurfyl Evans
Cabinet Member, Economic Development and Tourism