Bury Council has been accused of “spending money for the sake of money” on new benches, plants and banners.
A cost breakdown of how half a million pounds has been spent so far on regeneration projects at Radcliffe has been described as a working ‘open checkbook’.
Around Â£ 70,000 has been spent on nine new benches along Church Street West and almost Â£ 50,000 has been spent on installing seven more benches, restoring a bandstand and planters.
An additional Â£ 100,000 has been set aside to improve the appearance of storefronts.
Conservative leader Cllr Nick Jones asked who approved all the spending. He said: âThere doesn’t seem to be a lot of approval for this. It just seems like people have gone on and spent public money.
His colleague, Cllr Jackie Harris, asked if the spending could be linked to a reported increase in city attendance.
She said, âI’m all for spending money on regeneration, but it seems like spending money to spend money.
âDo you have any evidence that the increase in attendance is due to this?
âI appreciate how nice it is to have plants and benches, but the amounts are absolutely staggering. “
Cllr Susan Southworth agreed with the intentions of the local authority, but described the proposals as “surface coating”.
“How to interest private companies? “
Elton’s union representative explained to administrators how low rents have helped revive Ramsbottom where she runs a business.
She said: âWhen I opened my business about 25 years ago, Ramsbottom was a bit shabby. But by attracting businesses, it is now magnificent.
âTo me, Radcliffe could be the same. It’s better than Ramsbottom in that it has better transport links.
âIf you want to invest, you have to make Radcliffe investable. This is what we should do for me.
âDon’t put up hanging baskets and seats, but attract local businesses.
âWhitefield is another example. It was a road from Bury to Manchester. But there are some fabulous restaurants there now.
âRadcliffe might be a fabulous little town, but someone has to take it over and say, ‘we need private investment.’ How to interest private companies?
But Cllr Lucy Smith has warned that residents will be kicked out of town if council is not careful about the impact her plans could have on the cost of living.
She said: âWhat we don’t want at Radcliffe is to recreate a Ramsbottom. People cannot afford to live in Ramsbottom. “
“A merry-go-round to pass the ball”
The chairman of the review and oversight committee, Cllr Bob Caserta, accused the council of blaming former councilors and former directors who no longer worked at town hall for the “mess”.
He said: âI have been an advisor for 10 years and a member of this committee for three years. I have never seen such a report before.
“It’s pretty disgusting. It’s just a sleight of hand. If I had the power, I would bring them in front of us.”
Paul Aiken, director of economic regeneration and capital growth, defended the spending and said this initial investment does not represent the entire board regeneration strategy for Radcliffe.
He said: âThe board is of the opinion that the money has been well spent at Radcliffe and that its benefits are set out in the report. It shouldn’t be seen as the whole strategy.
“It’s a job to try to create short-term investments. The city needs the right plan. It needs the right framework to move forward.”
Deloitte LLP has been officially appointed to prepare a regeneration strategic framework and delivery plan for the city.
Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Cllr Tamoor Tariq, added: âWe are getting closer and closer to a new school.
âWe hope that a new school, which is essential, will allow the community to provide more investment.