Rugby Borough Council: 'Urgent' regeneration question answered with 'shindig' sideswipe

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“There is a need to crack on and ensure that money is spent in the town centre”

A councillor questioning the progress of plans to regenerate Rugby town centre did not get the “urgent” answers he craved – and received a sideswipe into the bargain.

Cllr John Slinger (Lab, New Bilton) queried how far the workstreams set up by the authority’s Town Centre Regeneration Working Group had got and was provided with a list of objectives and ancillary work to support them in a written response from leader Cllr Derek Poole (Con, Wolston & the Lawfords).

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Within that, it was noted that Cllr Slinger, who has been selected to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rugby in the next general election, sits on the working group.

A view of Rugby town centre.A view of Rugby town centre.
A view of Rugby town centre.

In a follow-up question, Cllr Slinger asked: “Along with Councillor (Michael) Moran, we work very hard on that group with the other councillors present for tangible changes to come to light as soon as possible.

“There is a £5 million fund available. Unfortunately, only £153,000 of that has been spent which is only three per cent.

“He listed various workstreams, preparatory work has been done, numerous consultants have been engaged, but can he say when the people of Rugby will see real, tangible change?

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"When will they see regeneration with bricks and mortar being deployed to deliver on those workstreams? We need to know when this is going to happen, it is urgent and the people of Rugby need to know.”

Cllr Poole diverted the question to his deputy and the council’s portfolio holder for growth and investment Councillor Ian Picker (Con, Hillmorton) who referred to the agenda of the next working group which he said would be “looking at some of those proposals from (consultants) CBRE and how we can move those forwards”.

“You are right,” he added. “There is a need to crack on and ensure that money is spent in the town centre.

“On the subject of spending money in the town centre, I couldn’t help but notice that you had a shindig this week for your other aspirations. I was genuinely quite disappointed that you didn’t choose to hold that in a town centre venue.”

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The comment was met with a mix of mirth and groans in the chamber before the meeting moved on to the next question.

Cllr Picker has since clarified that his comments related to a Labour event held in London to raise funds for the general election campaigns of Cllr Slinger and Rachel Taylor, who is standing in North Warwickshire and Bedworth.

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