Future of council's HQ hangs in the balance following local elections - The Leamington Observer

Future of council's HQ hangs in the balance following local elections

Leamington Editorial 9th May, 2019 Updated: 10th May, 2019   0

THE FUTURE of Warwick District Council’s controversial HQ is uncertain following local elections which saw the Conservatives lose overall control.

The Tories lost 11 seats in Thursday’s election, leaving them still the biggest party with 19 seats, but not enough to contol the council.

Liberal Democrats and Greens were the big winners both gaining seven seats each, leaving the Lib-Dems with nine, and the Greens with eight respectively.

Labour lost four seats to leave them with five. Whitnash Residents Association retained their three seats.

The future of the proposed new HQ – set to be built on the site of Covent Garden car park – now hangs in the balance.

The scheme, which is expected to cost around £18million, would include a new council HQ, with its current Riverside House site replaced with housing, and a new multi-storey car park at Covent Garden.

Newly elected Green Party councillor Martin Luckhurst said he believed the changes to the council would put the HQ’s future into doubt.

He told the Observer: “It is going to be much more difficult for the Conservatives to get it through in it’s current format. I think it will either go completely back to the drawing board or go through with some changes such as social housing on the sites.”

And re-elected Conservative councillor Terry Morris – who voted against the new council offices – said he suspects the HQ will be a discussed as a ‘priority’ when the new administration has settled in.

Newly elected Labour councillor Mini Mangat – one of the first female Sikh councillors to sit on WDC – said she would oppose its development.

She said: “I have previously campaigned against the new council offices. There is a lot to do and I am ready to continue my efforts.”

The Lib-Dems and Whitnash Residents Association did not want to comment on the HQ plans.

While the Tories have lost overall control of the council they could make an alliance with another party – or by joining forces the the other parties could even take control.

Among those losing their seat in the elections was council leader Andrew Mobbs.

Conservative candidate Mr Mobbs could only muster enough votes for sixth place among the 11 candidates vying for the Kenilworth Park Hill seat.

But he said despite the outrage of some residents about the planned HQ, he did not believe it was a factor in his defeat as it was ‘hardly mentioned’ while he was campaigning.

He told the Observer: “It has been a privilege and an honour to serve Kenilworth Park Hill and the district council for the past 12 years. My five years as leader has been a time I will remember with pride.

“In my view Brexit was the main case with a low turn out of conservative voters. HS2 was also mentioned when we were out doorstepping, however I do not believe that the lido or the HQ was a factor.

“I believe primarily national politics have affected my position.”

Labour group leader Kristie Naimo also lost her Leamington Brunswick seat.

She said: “Looking at the results I think this is an indication of people wanting to see parties working together more and I would really like to see that.

“Locally the HQ project has been highly controversial and that has led to some of the results that we have seen in Leamington. This will hopefully mean a rethink on the project that many have been calling for.”


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