Council made ‘right decision’ not to buy The Ridings shopping centre, leader says
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The council backed out of acquiring the shopping centre ten months ago.
The Labour-run council had been considering taking control of the centre as part of its ‘masterplan’ regeneration project.
But senior councillors withdrew from the acquisition last December, saying it was “not the time or the place” to buy the centre due to financial pressures.
Cabinet members instead agreed try to find a third-party buyer and work in partnership to redevelop The Ridings.
The centre was then bought by Yorkshire-based businessman Zahid Iqbal in March.
Council leader Denise Jeffery told a full council meeting how she had recently been invited to open a new area at the centre.
She said: “I was very pleased to open The Ridings play area last week.
“They have spent thousands of pounds on a fabulous indoor play area.
“It was great to see so many young children with their mums and dads, all queuing up to use this facility.
“Quite honestly, The Ridings is now buzzing.
“I think we made the right decision not to buy it.
“The fact is, a business owner has bought it and he is making such a difference.
“We are working in partnership with him.”
Celebrations are planned to mark the Ridings’ 40th anniversary next month.
Coun Nadeem Ahmed, leader of the Conservative opposition group, said: “I thought the Ridings was finished. That was my personal view.
“But I think, from going in there recently and seeing the independent shops arrive in the city centre, shows us that Wakefield has got a lot of life left in it.
“We need to make sure we are encouraging people into the city centre in whatever way we can.”