Why the need for confidentiality?

In last week’s Mercury it was reported that Derbyshire Dales District Council was up in arms over so-called “spurious” allegations that the public won’t have a significant say in the future development of Bakewell Road and the Lido site.

The true facts can be found on the council’s own website by finding the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Matlock under Planning Policy and the Community Committee meeting minutes for 12th July 2012.

In 2009 our Town Council shared costs with the District Council to appoint a consultant specialist to advise on the delivery of the development opportunities identified in the SPD for the development of Matlock Town Centre.

In their report the specialists suggested that interested developers should submit “detailed proposals which would include cost plans/development appraisals, timescales/programme for delivery and an indication of the local authority’s expected return in light of its aspirations for the site.”

The report then suggests that when choosing the preferred developer the council may incorporate public consultation in the process. But in Derbyshire Dales – no chance.

The broad details of the proposals are in the public domain and are readily available on the council website.

Five developers suggest another larger food store with other suggestions for a hotel or residential homes on the site of the old Lido – so what’s confidential?

I strongly suspect that the confidentiality claim by the Council is simply a wish to hide the differing financial advantages to the District Council within the various schemes i.e. money based decisions before public consultation as with Sherwood Hall, Crown Square, etc. etc.

Even the consultants said that “best value” should not necessarily mean that the most attractive financial package would be pursued given the council’s aim to secure the wider objectives of the SPD.

How will we ever know if we’re not given the facts?

IF their aim is to follow the SPD – what have they got to hide? Personally I would rather see the Lido site continue as a car park rather than build a budget hotel or residential homes simply because of the current economic climate.

But then DDDC own the land and want to cash in.

If we need a budget hotel, put the Ibis or Travelodge near the old Kenning’s site and, at a later date, spend money wisely to leave a Matlock that future generations will be proud of!

Come on Matlock, wake up, check the facts for yourself and tell the District Council what you think now – when they ask you it will be too late.

John Winnard