Council Hit Back At Allegations Of Laziness

Bosses at Dudley Council have hit back after claims by Atlantis Holdings - owners of the Trident Shopping Centre - that they ignored the firms requests for regeneration talks.

The owner of the Trident Centre said there would be ‘no investment’ in Dudley after claims that Council officials 'ignored' requests for meetings.

John Sykes, chairman of Atlantis Property which owns shopping centres up and down the country, said he had cancelled plans to refurbish the shopping mall and had been irritated by his requests for meetings with council chiefs being ignored.

The renovation of the shopping centre has been included in a council masterplan to change the face of the town centre. New shops and leisure attractions were to be added to the centre while the firm also wanted to create 185 apartments.

However, council bosses have insisted they were committed to working with the company. In a statement, Sarah Norman, chief executive of Dudley Council, said:

“Senior officers did meet Mr Sykes alongside Mr Strong (CEO of Atlantis Holdings) in November last year for a general discussion on the refurbishment and possible redevelopment of the Trident Centre, which Mr Strong later confirmed in writing had been ‘helpful’. Earlier this month, Mr Strong again confirmed their commitment to looking into redevelopment proposals, although no plans have so far been brought to the table.

“On February 23, the council took court action against Atlantis Holdings for business rate avoidance. Atlantis Holdings were seeking to avoid payment of business rates on a building owned by them, by representing to the council that a tenant company was in occupation. That tenant company was allegedly breeding snails in the building. This was not accepted by the council and in a court case against Atlantis before Dudley Magistrates in February 2017, a liability order was granted in the council’s favour.

 “Since then we have expressed our willingness to work with Atlantis and its regeneration proposals. However Dudley Council has a duty to collect business rates from local businesses. The vast majority of businesses pay the rates that are due and for those who experience difficulties in paying, we encourage them to contact us as soon as possible so that assistance can be provided and, where required, a repayment plan arranged.  Our aim is to treat all businesses equally.

"No officer has ever refused to meet Mr Sykes or Mr Strong. We have made it extremely clear to them that should they wish to take the investment forward, we remain ready to meet at any time and we would welcome such a development.”

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