Why I voted No to Camberley Mall deal

Below is the contents of a press release that I have sent out tonight.

“On Monday 31st October 2016, Surrey Heath Borough Council formally announced that it is poised to purchase The Mall Shopping Centre in a deal worth around £86 million.

Speaking about this announcement, Cllr Rodney Bates said, “Now that this issue has been put into the public domain by Surrey Heath Borough Council, I can confirm that I voted against this deal at the relevant Council meeting.”

He added, “Whilst I have always supported a positive long-term vision for Camberley, the financial information presented to Cllrs at that time was not sufficiently convincing in my mind to be sure that this particular deal represented good value for money.  This is especially important recognising that £86 million is a very large amount of public money and that local taxpayers would have to bear any future loss.

I was also concerned that the demand for long term expensive retail units in town centres will be reduced due to the huge increase in internet shopping based from commercial units. This worry was further compounded by the national economic uncertainties caused by Brexit and what this may mean for the confidence of potential investors.

Taking this all into account, I reluctantly concluded on the available information that I could not support this risky deal but wish the Council every success in trying to make it work.”

END

Contact:  Rodney Bates  01276 679957

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4 thoughts on “Why I voted No to Camberley Mall deal

  1. camberleyeye

    Rodney, I have so few facts that it’s hard to comment. But it would be madness to be invest significantly in new retail facilities for the reason that you give. We MIGHT find that bricks and mortar shops retain their appeal in spite of the internet, but that’s far from certain. (It’s 10:00pm and I’ve just bought a couple of cycle items from eBay – sorry Halfords, but you can’t compete). IS the council still hell bent on further retail, though? Mixed use for the London Road Block seems – belatedly – to have been identified as its future. But, also, if the council is paying CapReg £86m to terminate its lease and to acquire its freehold properties, that leaves only ca. £25m of the proposed total spend of £110 for anything else. That isn’t enough to redevelop the LRB. From memory, CapReg said it would cost of the order of twice that amount. So my guess is that £25m would be only sufficient to buy out the remaining freeholders, clear the site (perhaps only part of the site) and build a modest car park. Proper redevelopment of the LBR will still be dependent on a developer wanting to do it – and pay the cost involved. Or have I got things wrong? – always possible/probable.

    Reply
  2. rodneybates Post author

    Thanks for the response. Firstly, I do agree that it is difficult for most people to comment when so few facts have been publically available which is why I am pleased that the Council have now made a public statement allowing this to be discussed . I’m sure you will appreciate that for legal reasons, I am not able to comment further about the specific detail beyond the information given by the Council in their public statement. However, as one of the small number of people that have seen the confidential information, it was not sufficiently convincing for me personally to vote for it. I’m also very clear that as an elected representative, the public deserve to know my views when I am legally able to give these especially when such large amounts of their own money is being spent with the obvious long term implications.

    I want to be clear here in that I do support town centre regeneration and have always done so. My concern relates to the specific deal that was proposed at the relevant Council meeting and whether it was good value for money based on the information provided to me as one of the voting Cllrs. Reluctantly, I concluded that it was not. Other town centre redevelopments such as those that you mention may be different and personally I will be considering each one on their individual merits. It is too early to say whether or not the £110m will be a final amount and to some degree this will also depend on what if any future town centre opportunities become available. Cllrs could therefore decide to increase this figure if the need arose.

    Reply
  3. Nick B Scales

    Whilst voting against was the right thing to do I can’t help but say we wouldn’t be in the current economic slide if Labour had a decent leader who had supported being within a greater union with our European collegeaues rather than cosying up to Nigel Farrage’s and Micheal Gove’s Brexit bunch instead of persuing a 1970’s isolationist policy. – The Residents and Business Rate payers of Surrey Heath could end up with a huge Albatross around their necks with The Mall, especially as retail development proposed in Bracknell, Reading , Farnham and elsewhere in the greater Thames/Blackwater Valley will draw shoppers AWAY from Camberley from outlying commuter villages and smaller towns.

    Reply

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