Car park sale recommended in spite of protests by traders
Councillors voted in August to sell the car park, after seven companies had expressed an interest in developing the site. But Malton and Norton Business in Action maintain that building a new supermarket on the land would have a devastating impact on independent retailers.
The objectors also argue Malton will also lose its historic character and become a clone town. More than 2,000 people have petitioned against the sale and last week 250 of them marched through Malton to protest.
An extraordinary meeting of Ryedale Council to discuss the sale has been called in The Main Hall, Malton School, Middlecave Road, Malton, on Wednesday at 6.30 pm but the agenda for the meeting, published yesterday, recommends the deal goes ahead.
Head of Economy Julian Rudd argues that to create jobs and prosperity in the climate of Government spending cuts Ryedale Council would have to go it alone on some schemes which are most important to Malton's future.
He said: "These include currently unfunded projects such as a Heart of Malton project to include a major improvement of the Milton and Assembly Rooms, major public realm improvements and town centre business space provision.
"Although this was supported in principle by Yorkshire Forward there is now no realistic chance of getting Yorkshire Forward funding for this as the Regional Development Agencies are being abolished.
"Similarly, the Yorkshire Forward project to provide managed workspace in Malton or Pickering to support new and better paid jobs in Ryedale is now without a funder other than the District Council."
He also underlined the impact of the North Yorkshire County Council cuts to major transport projects due to the 4.5m reduction in regional transport funding. The deleted schemes included the Vivis Lane, Pickering, junction improvement, together with other projects elsewhere in the county.
He continued: "Against this background the council must explore every opportunity to make more effective use of public assets, particularly where a significant sum can be raised to help fund beneficial projects.
"Any capital receipt obtained from this site has the potential to support projects that deliver each of the council's priorities, including meeting housing needs and maintaining a high quality sustainable environment."
However, rebel councillor Paul Andrews said: "Ryedale District Council have blocked their ears and turned their backs on more than 250 protesters who marched through Malton in protest against the sale.
"They continue to accept advice given by consultants in spite of an apparent conflict of interests.
"It is quite clear that the council's political administration know perfectly well that a new superstore or supermarket on Wentworth Street Car Park now will result in an over-provision of convenience shopping capacity which is bound to damage Malton's historic town centre. They are intent on an asset stripping exercise without any regard to the long term consequences. They are deaf to public opinion, and power has gone to their heads.
"The council says Wentworth Street Car Park is underused, but this is not so. There is no need for another supermarket. Malton already has one of the biggest Morrisons stores in the North of England, as well as smaller outlets run by ASDA and Sainsbury's, and Costcutters. A Lidl store is under construction and permission has recently been given for a new Aldi store in Norton."