LIBERAL Democrat MP, Lorely Burt is calling for “more openness” in council discussions about the future development of Shirley.
The Solihull MP’s call comes in the wake of a meeting of the council cabinet last Thursday, held behind closed doors due to reasons of commercial confidentiality.
Mrs Burt said: “I understand that the vast majority of the report was not of a confidential nature and feel that a real opportunity has been missed by the council to begin to build trust again with Shirley residents.
“Surely now would have been the ideal time for the council to get these issues into the public domain and begin to involve local people in deciding what is best for the future of Shirley.”
“Keeping the whole report under wraps simply increases suspicion that deals are being done behind closed doors and will further alienate Shirley residents and retailers.”
Mrs Burt said she had written to Cllr Meeson calling for discussions to be opened up with the local community.
Doubts have been cast over the future of the scheme in recent weeks but the message following the meeting from Solihull Council and developers Shirley Advance was that it was very muuch on course, albeit in a scaled down form.
A statement issued by the council said it and the developer were committed to the regeneration project but changes would have to be made.
The development will still be anchored by an Asda superstore, but the smaller stores will be one storey instead of two, as planned originally.
Also, there will be no temporary car park on part of Shirley Park, with parking provided either elsewhere.
And the plan for 200-plus apartments has been amended to include some family homes.
The revised plans will be finalised and then submitted for planning permission. If this is granted, the council says work could start during the summer of 2010.
Councillor Ken Meeson, leader of the council, said: “We have made a promise to the people of Shirley that we will breathe life into the town centre, and we will deliver on that promise.”