Shopping centre's new 'risk' status is a precaution, council insists

Senior councillors expect Barnsley's new Glass Works shopping and leisure centre to be completed without problems, despite the scheme being added to the authority's '˜risk register' of issues which could cause major problems.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 8:44 am
Updated Thursday, 17th May 2018, 8:56 am
Risk threat: Barnsley's emerging Glass Works shopping centre is now recognised as a financial threat by the council.

That move has been made as a precautionary measure, to ensure the authority is able to act swiftly should plans begin to go off course in the future.

The Glass Works is the lynchpin in the modernisation of Barnsley town centre, with the work being undertaken by the council itself following the collapse of previous attempts to launch regeneration projects with outside development companies.

Work is progressing on the scheme with the first tenants expected to move in at the end of the summer, but the council has decided to add the scheme to its list of potentially serious risks, on the grounds there is a possibility it could fail to achieve: “appropriate levels retail, market and leisure space that allows for a robust level of return on investment to be made that allows the council to recover its borrowing within a suitable timescale and deliver the positive impacts on the town centre and wider economic landscape.”

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The council’s ruling cabinet has been told the project has been added because there is a potential that problems could occur in future, rather than an expectation that the scheme will run into trouble.

Coun Alan Gardiner told colleagues: “This register is not highlighting that these are necessarily high risk, but it is a way to manage the risk.

“All these issues do have a risk attached. If we can manage them on a day to day basis, that is what we will continue to do.

“If risks do appear we can pick them up at an early date.”

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said the town centre scheme “Always had a risk with it. These big projects always do. The important thing is that we are managing it effectively."

Coun Roy Miller added: "I feel comfortable we are on top of the job and it will get done on target."

Market traders will begin moving into the Glass Works from September, when meat and fish market traders take over their new pitches, with others to follow later in the Autumn.

The process has hit some stumbling blocks, with some traders wary of new rent charges for their stalls, which will more than treble in some cases at least, and the legal implications of signing the long leases they have been offered.

Some stallholders have decided not to continue trading after the current market ceases to operate, with others yet to decide, though Barnsley Council has insisted there has been a positive arrangement to the new market from traders.