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Selling the carpark in Malton is not a done deal


6:43am 17th November 2010
(Updated 12:40pm 17th November 2010)

Council accused of engaging consultants with a conflict of interest.

Ryedale District Council have blocked their ears and turned their backs on more than 250 protestors who marched through Malton on Thursday in protest against the sale of Wentworth Street Car Park.

Further they continue to accept advice given by consultants in spite of a possible conflict of interests.

It emerged last week that consultants Atisreal may have been engaged by superstore chain Sainsbury while Sainsbury were actively investigating the purchase of Wentworth Street Car Park from the Council. Nevertheless they were engaged by Ryedale at about the same time to advise the Council on a Town Centre Strategy for Malton. Yet Council members were not advised of this possible conflict of interests.

Atisreal were subcontracted to WSP and produced a report to the Council jointly with them. They recommend a superstore with a gross sales area of between twenty and thirty five  thousand sq. Ft. on Wentworth Street Car Park.

The Council had previously relied on Reports by Roger Tym and Partners for advice on town centre shopping, and it is not known why the Council chose to go to other firms of consultants.

Atisreal and WSP supplied little data of their own to justify their conclusions, but chose to rely instead on data, calculations and tables provided by RTP in two reports dated 2006 and 2008. However, RTP’s 2008 Report dismissed Wentworth Street Car Park as not “representing a short-term development opportunity” and instead gave a ringing endorsement to proposals for the development of the Cattle Market comprising a 16,000 sq.ft. net floor space Waitrose type food store  and seven other shops.

The 2008 RTP Report was dated September 2008, but was not presented to Council members until April 2009, when it was produced on a CD as “Appendix D” of the Second Report prepared by WSP and Atisreal, which, as mentioned above, had recommendations which contradicted RTP.

Councillor Paul Andrews said: “It is quite clear that the Council’s political administration know perfectly well that a new superstore or supermarket  on Wentworth Street Car Park  now will result in an over-provison of convenience shopping capacity which is bound to damage Malton’s historic town centre. They are intent on an asset stripping exercise without any regard to the long term consequences. They are deaf to public opinion, and power has gone to their heads.” 

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