Rushden Lakes – What is the Real Truth?
I return again to what is the increasingly complicated issue centring on either the hypocrisy or incompetence of the Northampton Conservatives on the whole issue around challenging and opposing the Rushden Lakes development.
At a recent meeting the Leader of the a Borough Council claimed when challenged about why he had done a ‘U-Turn’ on his support for the Rushden Lakes gave the implausible excuse that,
“I thought the development was going to be the size of the Riverside Retail Park and didn’t know how big the Rushden Lakes development was and when I found out how big it was going to be I decided to oppose it”!!
The first thing that comes to mind is that if this was really the case then presumably the Northampton Borough Conservatives will support an out-of-town retail development on the scale of the current Riverside Centre to support the development plans for the Cobblers at Sixfields.
If this is true then it will of course be in direct opposition to the Legal and General position regarding the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre who are opposed to all out-of-town developments.
The second thing about the Councillor Mackintosh statement that makes it implausible is that he was a member of the County Council Cabinet who at the taxpayer’s expense fund the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership who support and promote the Rushden Lakes Development in their public document ‘Northamptonshire – At the heart of opportunity for business’.
It is a fact that appears to have escaped the Conservative Leader, especially when it states “The site has outline planning consent for mixed use development, with a master plan for a 175 bed four star hotel, 51,835 sq. ft. of retail space, a marina for 100 boats and offices/business units from 1000 sq. ft. up to bespoke buildings of 100,000+ sq. ft.” or is it that he wasn’t really interested in how it would affect Northampton at the time with his attention being on the County Council?
The whole Rushden Lakes issue has now become even more complicated with the announcement that the Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP has set a date for a ‘public enquiry’ for this summer after which he will make the decision on whether it should be allowed to go ahead.
There is another problem of course created during the Corby and East Northants by-election last November when the Conservative MP Peter Bone asked a question of the Prime Minister who in response very clearly stated that he thought the Rushden Lakes was a great example of how the Government policies were working to create jobs?
To simplify things then we have the Northampton Conservative supported NEP promoting Rushden Lakes whilst at the same time as Conservative Councillors opposing it, we have the Prime Minister supporting it but with the Secretary of State possibly refusing it?
The problem is that we appear to have arrived at a position where the Conservatives position is at best confused and at its worst incompetent?
The greater problem is that with the public enquiry not being held until the summer Legal and General may delay their decision on the Grosvenor Centre redevelopment a decision that the Leader of the Council said an announcement was going to be made on in January this year.
Which begs the question of whether the redevelopment and regeneration of the Grosvenor Centre is dependent on the Secretary of State rejecting the Rushden Lakes Development?
It is a question that the Conservative Leaders of both the Borough and County Councils need to answer?