From a public letter to the Stevenage Comet last week.
“I have received many messages over the last few days , showing rock solid local support for the regeneration of the town centre following your coverage last week.
These are exceptionally difficult times as we get to grips with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stevenage Borough Council, and local partners, remain committed to doing all we can to support the town, from working with cafes and charities to help support families in difficulty, to working with businesses and groups in the town to help tackle any local outbreaks.
Visitors to the town centre can already see the work underway to improve the town square, create new facilities in the town centre and regenerate part of Queensway.
In the face of the Covid pandemic, it is even more vital that we redouble our recovery efforts that bring new jobs, new homes for local people including council housing, vital regeneration and to build back greener.
Stevenage residents and businesses have shown overwhelming support for the regeneration of the town centre, with 91% of residents seeing the top priority to be making it happen. We are delighted to be working with MACE to make this a reality, helping create a new vibrant heart of the town, places to eat and drink, jobs and homes for local people.
We will be working to help create fantastic new facilities in the town including a new library, new space for NHS services, a park and Garden Square in the heart of the town, café and restaurant spaces. We will also continue to focus on providing affordable housing for the people of the town, with 500 new homes underway.
But I and many local people are baffled by the stance taken by the local MP for Stevenage who has asked government to hold up the SG1 regeneration scheme.
Over several years, the MP has been invited to meetings with local councils, businesses and other partners to help shape our regeneration efforts but has chosen not to, never attending a meeting of the regeneration board since 2015.
Also, he had the opportunity to express his views in response to the planning application but chose not to do so. It is deeply disappointing to see yet another attempt to delay regeneration for political gain at the expense of our town and our residents, rather than helping us create the bright future the town and its people deserves.
It is time to put political differences aside and work together to deliver the national growth and recovery agenda for the benefit of local people.”
Sharon Taylor, Leader, Stevenage Borough Council.