Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman wants to work more closely with Kirklees Council over the £250 million town centre Blueprint regeneration.
As it was revealed Kirklees Council is set to buy another major town centre building – and hire outside consultants at a cost of £1.75 million – Mr Sheerman said: “Let’s talk a bit more.”
Mr Sheerman said Kirklees Council was playing its cards close to its chest over regeneration and there were other groups and individuals who had much experience to offer.
He said the likes of former council leader Sir John Harman, lobby group Huddersfield Unlimited and Sustainable Huddersfield all had a part to play in the future of the town centre.
A report to next week’s council Cabinet meeting says that the authority doesn’t have the in-house expertise needed to drive forward the regeneration and that outside help was needed.
And, instead of seeking tenders for the consultancy role, the council had decided to use a “direct award.”
A competitive tender would take at least six months and the regeneration plans had already been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The council wanted to avoid further hold-ups and get moving.
Mr Sheerman questioned the wisdom of Kirklees Council hiring consultants without a tendering process and said there were other firms he had been “very impressed” with.
“This is a very large consultancy fee and I don’t see why we shouldn’t look at two or three rather than plumping for just one,” he said.
“To just hear this announcement without anyone giving us the heads-up is a little bit disappointing. I’m sure we can repair that situation, though.
“There’s a whole group of us who have knowledge and experience about the town centre and sometimes we just need to widen the circle of discussion to be a little broader.
“I would say in the spirit of co-operation, let’s talk a little more.”
Meanwhile, Kirklees Council is set to press head with the purchase of another “strategic” building in the so-called ‘Cultural Heart’ – the area around Queensgate Market and the Piazza, which the council has also bought.
The report, which does not identify the building because of commercial confidentiality, says the purchase will “provide an opportunity for the council to further control the ownership in the proposed Cultural Heart and support the implementation of the masterplan.”
The council says the mystery building is a “strategic long leasehold asset” which is subject to existing tenancies.
The council has already bought the Piazza Centre and the George Hotel.