MANSFIELD: Council putting town centre at risk, claims MP

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MP Sir Alan Meale has launched a blistering attack on the district council - claiming that its mismanagement of the town centre is putting Mansfield at risk.

The Mansfield MP contacted Chad to express his concerns over the still-empty Queen’s Place development and claimed that the district authority is standing in the way of new businesses coming to the town.

Sir Alan, who last year produced a 50-point blueprint to boost the district, said potential firms are being put off by sky-high business rates and overly long lease terms - with around 132,000 square feet of office and retail space currently empty in Mansfield.

He told Chad that due to delays in completion of the £2.4m Queen’s Street development, the district council should have had tenants ready to move in when the build was officially opened in November.

Sir Alan said: “Last year I produced a report which expressed the worries and fears of local businesses about the lack of clear thinking.

“Worryingly, so far all that has happened has been the response that everything will be okay now that the Queen’s Street building has been completed. Although this occurred some months ago, even a rental level for the lease of the property hasn’t yet been set, nor tenants found to fill it.

“At the moment, all that it represents is yet another set of empty shops and offices in the town centre. The fact that it has a grass roof cannot detract from this fact.

“If the district council was a business it would have gone bust - the future of Mansfield is at stake here.”

In his report, Sir Alan recommended moves such as more free parking, a limit on charity shops, cheaper market stall rent and new cycle parks for the town centre. But the authority said many of his ideas were already being carried out.

Coun Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for economic regeneration, said: “The town centre is making steady progress and we should all be proud of the fact that we are seeing somewhat of a revival. Recent figures for the number of empty units have decreased below the national average and we have soared up the national retail rankings from 135 to 112.”

PICTURED: Mayor Tony Egginton and Coun Kay Allsop (top) at the opening of Queen’s Place in November and (above) Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale.