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Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby accused of neglecting city's outer estates


Sir Peter Soulsby has been accused of neglecting Leicester's outer estates while ploughing millions of pounds into city centre improvements.

Leicester's Labour mayor is pressing ahead with his £19 million Connecting Leicester scheme to improve the city centre environment, but his approach has been criticised by unions and Leicester City Council's sole Conservative opposition councillor.

The city council's Unison representative Gary Garner said: "He wants a glass wall around the city centre with all the investment inside it and everyone else standing outside looking in.

"He wants expensive Richard III museums and big public squares but he's not looking out on the estates and seeing they need money, too.

"He's out of touch with people."

The claims prompted a furious response from Sir Peter, who said the suggestions were the stupidest he had heard.

Tory councillor Ross Grant, who represents Knighton, said: "He calls his scheme Connecting Leicester, but it is £19 million on connecting a very small part of it.

"He hasn't got any plan at all for anything in the residential areas. His proposals are very much concentrated on the city centre.

"He knows it's going to make bigger news if he announces big city centre schemes.

"He gets more bangs for his bucks by putting money into the city centre rather than, say Braunstone or Beaumont Leys.

"Those areas are being neglected."

Coun Grant did accept there was some proposed investment beyond the immediate city centre such as the £5 million innovation centre at the science park in Abbey Lane and a £1.1 million revamp at Victoria Park.

He said: "There is a bit. There are a few economic development plans he can point to, like the science park and the civic plans he has for Victoria Park.

"However, he is spending more on capital projects at a time when the council income is coming down.

"While we are obsessed with spending large sums of money in the city centre we, can't invest in community centres and libraries further out. To be fair, it's not a new thing.

"Under the previous administration the approach was the same but he promised us something different when he became mayor.

"He said local councillors had their own little patches to look after but he would be there for the whole city."

Sir Peter said: "It's a stupid argument – and just not true.

"In a few weeks, we will be releasing details of a £15 million investment in improvements for primary school across the city.

"We have already seen £300 million invested in secondary schools across the city.

"That makes the £19 million invested in the city centre pale in comparison.

"They say I am out of touch? Are they driving down Abbey Lane with their eyes closed because they can't have seen the (£5 million) innovation workspace centre that is under construction at the moment.

"That is certainly not in the city centre. We are also investing in Narborough Road and Belgrave Gate."

Sir Peter said the council had also sold land in Beaumont Leys to allow for redevelopment would create jobs.

Food firm Samworth Brothers has bought 12.3 acres of former council land there to develop a factory that could create 700 jobs.

He also said the council was committed to investing in care facilities in the wider city.

It is contributing £750,000 towards turning disused Abbey Mills building, near Abbey Park, into 78 flats to be provided by social landlord Asra in an £8.75 million scheme.

Leicester  mayor Sir Peter Soulsby accused of neglecting city's outer estates

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