Timeline of the failed China deal

Timeline of the failed China deal

By Lucy Ashton
Wednesday, 10 July, 2019, 11:42
Council Leader Julie Dore signing the exclusive agreement with Mr Wang

July 2016: the council signs a 60-year partnership with Sichuan Guodong Construction which is worth £1 billion and gives owner Wang Chunming exclusivity over redeveloping the Central Library.

The Sichuan Guodong Group is given 12 months to explore plans to redevelop the Grade II-listed library into the city’s first five star hotel.

April 2017: the council still hadn’t signed a library deal but says it expects an agreement to be finalised “imminently”. 

December 2017: the plans have fizzled out after the Sichuan Guodong Group’s enthusiasm is dampened at the unviability and the significant costs associated with the site

A Freedom of Information request reveals the council had spent more than £30,000 on overseas trips to China connected to the deal.

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Spring 2018: Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, says the council is still in talks with the Sichuan Guodong Group.

September 2018: Council Leader Julie Dore says she has not had any direct contact with Wang Chunming since the start of the year.

March 2019: A Freedom of Information request finds Sheffield Council had spent more than £150,000 pursuing a deal with Chinese investors – including buying bags, rulers and bookmarks as gifts.

July 2019: The deal is dead. Coun Mazher Iqbal says it’s all over.