Somerset

Delayed town revamp 'has wasted £10m' over 10 years

Firepool site
Image caption The Firepool site remains largely derelict despite plans being drawn up a decade ago to develop it

More than £10m of public money has been wasted on consultants working on the regeneration of the Firepool site in Taunton, a councillor has alleged.

Independent Ian Morrell made the claim during a special meeting at Taunton Deane Borough Council.

He also said consultants spent £50,000 on a report into whether John Lewis should open a store at Firepool.

The town centre site remains largely derelict, but is home to the Viridor head office and some housing.

'Slow-moving train wreck'

During the meeting on Wednesday evening, Conservative council leader John Williams survived opposition calls for him to resign over the issue, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Mr Williams has agreed to look into a range of different options for Firepool, including a conference venue and a marine innovation centre.

Lib Dem councillor Ray Tully described the site as a "monstrosity", criticising the amount of time that had been spent on the regeneration to date.

He said: "Gloucester City Council has just opened a new bus station - two years from start to finish. We can't even build a shop in that time."

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, Simon Coles had called on Mr Williams and cabinet member Mark Edwards to resign in light of St Modwen pulling out of the development project in September.

Mr Coles described the Firepool saga as "a slow-moving train wreck", saying the council's Project Taunton work "had alienated developers".

He said: "The public deserve to know how much this debacle of dereliction has cost.

"They need to know how much the partnership with St Modwen has cost."

Mr Morrell has also called for more cross-party involvement and has asked how much more money it will cost.

The BBC has approached Taunton Deane Borough Council to confirm the true cost of Project Taunton.

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