A REVIEW of the Northern Quarter redevelopment near Cinderford would mean students having to travel long distances, it has been claimed.
The Green Party has called for a review of the £100 million scheme to show that it would actually deliver the promised 1,000 jobs before the final stages of the spine road through the site progresses.
But Labour say that would make “long distance commuters” of 16-year-olds because the centrepiece college development would be delayed.
Green district councillor Sid Phelps, whose Lydbrook and Ruardean ward includes the Northern Quarter site, said: “Following the failure of the £2.13m GFirst (Local Enterprise Partnership) bid for making the ‘site investment ready’, the Forest of Dean Green Party believes the Cinderford Northern Quarter project should now be publicly reviewed.
“The public should be presented with evidence that the project will deliver the promised 1,000, or nearly that number, of new full time employment positions, before construction on the final stages of the spine road commences.”
Cllr Phelps has also requested permission to attend Cinderford Regeneration Board meetings – which he says has been “dogged” in pushing the project.
He added: “The public has the right to be informed in a meaningful way on the progress to date in ensuring the provision of new employment before more public money is sunk into the project.”
But Labour’s Di Martin, who is standing in the Drybrook and Lydbrook division in the forthcoming Gloucestershire County Council election, said it was vital the scheme is not delayed.
“With the real possibility that Gloucestershire College will stop offering A-Level courses at Five Acres, the new college, which is the centrepiece of the Northern Quarter scheme, is vitally needed.
“It is unthinkable that students from Cinderford, Coleford, Lydney and the whole central Forest area will have to travel to Sedbury, Newent, Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth or Gloucester to access A-Level courses.
“The new housing and employment opportunities offered by the Northern Quarter development are also vitally needed.”
The other candidates standing in the division are Conservative Terry Hale, Gill Moseley for the Liberal Democrats, Averil Sumners for UKIP and long-standing Northern Quarter critic, Independent Andrew Gardiner.
“It seems the Greens and their ally Andrew Gardiner would rather make our 16 year olds and work seekers into long distance commuters as well as denying affordable housing to meet local need.”
Andrew Gardiner has criticised Labour candidates who, he claims, “have already signed up to selling off our ancient woodlands simply because their leaders have required them to do so.”