Regeneration firm told: ‘Put up or shut up’

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THE MAN behind plans to regenerate Spalding has been urged to “put up or shut up” by South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter.

THE MAN behind plans to regenerate Spalding has been urged to “put up or shut up” by South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter.

Coun Porter has chosen to speak out over Richard Garvie’s Sustainable Spalding plan – a regeneration company that aims to boost the town’s economy.

Mr Garvie says bringing a cinema to the town would boost footfall and money from a new supermarket could pay for one to be built.

Last week Mr Garvie announced he had had 3,300 responses to a survey asking where, if at all, residents would want a new supermarket or cinema – but Coun Porter wants more details.

Coun Porter said: “If he’s managed to get responses from 3,300 people he should do that sort of thing for a living – we normally get a five per cent return on our surveys. I want to see some substance to what he’s saying or I want him to stop saying it.

“If it gets around that people are all talk in Spalding, it will be bad for our reputation.”

The leader’s comments follow a statement in June from economic development portfolio holder Howard Johnson, who warned that Mr Garvie’s plans were of “great concern” to the council and could jeopardise the authority’s work.

Coun Porter is open to the suggestion that a private firm of experts could take the job of economic regeneration off the council, but is unconvinced by the 28-year-old former Tulip Radio presenter’s credentials.

Coun Porter said: “If someobody wanted to make a pitch to take that function off the council I would be happy to talk to them. They would have to have a track record showing they can help places like Spalding.

“I am yet to hear anybody who is convinced that he has got a positive track record.

“I am more than happy to speak to him, especially if he brings a copy of the survey. My door is always open but he needs to have some substance.”

Mr Garvie stood behind his plans and said: “I am really disappointed. Gary Porter needs to ring me and get around the table. We are going to go ahead with this whether the council wants to support it or not.

“We have only surveyed about half of the town – I am quite happy to go out on the doorsteps with Coun Porter to speak to the rest.”