Time for the Bexhill leader to give answers

From: Richard Thomas, Wickham Avenue, Bexhill

We now know how wafer-thin is the commitment of Rother’s Tories to democracy but further evidence of this is evident in their handling of the Colonnade fiasco.

Cllr Maynard has, for some time, hankered after turning the Colonnade into an iconic destination restaurant, not realising that this would take the enterprise of a Rick Stein rather than the blundering of a Tory-led Council.

The truth is that he embarked on a high-risk gamble with our money, and he now refuses to release the figures which the public is entitled to know.

When councils everywhere are cash-strapped, he has been cavalier with our money and economical only with the truth.

So, my challenge to him is to answer these questions:

1) What will the cost of this be to Rother’s ratepayers?

2) What are the total trading losses to date?

3) What further trading losses are expected before a commercial tenant takes on the lease?

4) Had those funds been normally invested, they would have shown a profit.

How much has been lost by not doing so?

5) Now we know the council has decided to let it out rent free until April 2019, how much will have been lost in rent and business rates from the start of the refurbishment to the end of that period?

6) What has been the cost of council and management time allocated to the project?

Rother has attempted to shift the blame for the fiasco upon British Gas, claiming that the problems have been caused by a lack of a gas supply. If so, this would imply project management of an abysmal standard by councillors – ignoring the gas supply to a restaurant is like planning a railway, and forgetting the track!

But it is said that the gas pipes are there; it’s a meter that’s lacking.

Is the leadership so lacking in energy and influence that it could neither foresee nor rectify these shortcomings?

The council’s own figures anticipated that, by the end of September, takings would have been £113,000, giving a surplus of £31,527. The council minutes have recorded that ‘it is not appropriate for the public purse to pick up any trading losses.’ Obviously, the reality has been totally different.

When my wife and I went there, it was all but empty, there being few tempted by a menu of overpriced sandwiches.

We could only feel sympathy for the pleasant, helpful but disheartened staff.

The council has a duty to handle our money carefully and honestly. But there is an issue here beyond the Colonnade. The Tories have taken our votes for granted.

But the world is changing. The electorate will no longer accept a fatal mixture of arrogance and incompetence.