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Anger as councillors asked to allow leader to oversee town centre sale

Anger has erupted after a Royal Borough document recommended top councillors delegate power to leader Cllr Simon Dudley to negotiate an important town centre deal.

The council’s part ownership of the Nicholsons Centre and Central House – a building on that site – has been set out under a ‘heads of terms’, a document which outlines key elements of a potential sale, the Royal Borough paper reveals.

The council owns 50 per cent of the shopping centre’s freehold but appears ready to sell that to new owners Tikehau Capital and real estate firm Areli.

A new car park will also be built for ‘what would be likely to be a substantially reduced cost’ than previous plans, it states.

But the Royal Borough document also recommends the council’s cabinet delegates authority to Cllr Dudley and ‘the executive director’ - Russell O’Keefe – to negotiate and agree a contract with French group Tikehau and Areli.

That has led to fury from opposition figures Cllrs Lynne Jones and Claire Stretton.

“It is down to two people,” Cllr Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), the leader of the opposition, said.

“This is going to be a huge sum of money going to the council.

“At least it should go through scrutiny and be challenged because we can’t have two people thinking they know what is best for the whole of the borough.”

Cllr Jones said she ‘can’t believe’ the non-cabinet Conservatives would go along with it.

“A huge contract like this which is the centre of Maidenhead and they are not going to even have a say on it and it is not even public so the residents can’t see what is happening,” she added.

Cllr Stretton, the leader of opposition party The Borough First, said the ‘unilateral decision making’ had been ‘going on for too long’ and was the reason her new party was set up.

In response, Cllr Dudley said he would ‘happy take it to full council’ and ‘change the recommendation’ to reflect that.

He said the agreement would be ‘significant’ for the council but would not go into specifics because of commercial sensitivity.

Once the terms are negotiated, he said, it can then be approved at a vote at full council.

Cabinet will meet on Thursday, April 25 at York House in Windsor from 7.30pm.

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  • Pursuer

    11:11, 18 April 2019

    Now what was the old saying about power, absolute power leads o...?

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  • MarcWall

    18:06, 17 April 2019

    You couldn't make it up?

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