Xplain’s Freedom of Information request to find out if MK Council have already had talks to sell public highways and land for a hugely controversial plan to build a new Primark in Central Milton Keynes has been refused. Why? Because it’s ‘not in the public interest’ to know.
Excuse me? We’re not talking about building on a vacant development site in CMK – although there are plenty to choose from! No – we’re talking about building over Secklow Gate, the prime gateway into CMK, building over a popular outdoor market in Market Square, losing an outstanding feature of our Grade 11 listed shopping building, damaging the city’s famous grid-road system, chopping down umpteen mature plane trees, replacing safe pedestrian underpasses for barmy zebra crossings over the main bus route – the list goes on!
They have, however, admitted they’ve already had talks ‘in principle’ to sell off public land, ‘without prejudice’ to the planning application which will be determined (by MK Council) in January. But they refuse to say more, or when these talks began.
Could it be in case the talks might date back to the murky months of 2011 before we exposed the scandal of Secklow Gate Bridge? After that £1m fiasco came to light, it turned out that senior figures at MK Council had stepped in to ‘hold off’ repairs to the fire-damaged bridge in order to ‘consider’ this very ‘development option’. Even though their legal duty was to reopen the public highway, not keep it closed in case a planning application landed on the mat, and even though the costs of keeping the bridge closed were spiralling out of control. But of course, senior managers couldn’t have been expected to know that, could they?
Well, shall we contest the FOI refusal, and try to dig deeper?