Friday, March 6, 2009

The Cabinet votes for compulsory purchase

A compulsory purchase of a land seems to the Cabinet of the Poole Borough the best way to start building of a long-awaited bridge in Poole. 

The Cabinet of the Poole Borough recommended the Council on Tuesday to use its powers to buy the land for construction of the second bridge in Poole. 

The Council has been holding negotiations with landowners, including Gallagher Estates and Lands Improvement Holdings, to acquire the land since 2006. 

The Council still hopes that the voluntary purchase will take place, but the Cabinet proposed the compulsory purchase to ensure that the Twin Sails Bridge project will be launched before the end of 2009.  

Councillor Ann Stribley, Deputy Leader of the Borough of Poole, said: “The bridge is essential for Poole. But it’s not about getting the land cheap, it’s about getting it quick.”

Councillor Ron Parker, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Economy said: "The Twin Sails Bridge will be an iconic structure for Poole, generating job opportunities at a time when the local economy is feeling the impact of the global economic downturn."

Councillor Brian Leverett, Leader of Borough of Poole, said: “We’ve been waiting for 50 years for the new bridge. This bridge is so important to the economy of Poole and to the wellbeing of the whole town.”

He added: “First of all we have a Transport and works act, which give us a legal planning permissions to build the bridge and that would be running out in 2011 if we’ve not made a start on it. 

Second is that the government has given us a grant in 2001 £14.1 million and less we get on and use it, the government’s likely to claw that money back, especially in the current financial situation. So we could lose this bridge all together if we delay.”

He says the project is going to cost between £36 and £37 million. An authority like Poole can’t find that money. It is only in December this year that we got the final government loan of £10 million, which will enable us to go ahead.”

Liberal democrat Councillor Brian Clements said: “We’ve been working on that bridge for many years and I look forward to see it completed.

He also thinks that the compulsory purchase is in the interests of Poole council taxpayers. “The bridge should have been finished five years ago, so the delay is intolerable.”

However, he sees a problem with the loan that the council received: “There is an issue that the Council is not facing up to the fact that if they are borrowing £10 million they will well end up supporting that land, the interest on that land from the Council tax and so that could be a problem building up for the future.”

Leader of Borough of Poole Councillor Leverett says: “It is a loan, but effectively it’s people that own the land by the side of the bridge who will have to pay it to the government, because this bridge will open that land up for development, house building, commercial purposes etc.”

There are two houses on the land that is to be used for bridge construction. 

But Councillor Leverett says they are not inhabited, so there is no need for forcing people to move out. 

“These houses were bought by one of the companies, because they knew that they would be needed for the road and unless that bridge is put in then they cannot develop their land for housing. So it’s in their interest as much as it’s in the interest of the council to provide this bridge.”

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