THE granting of an extra half a million pounds to Hereford's controversial retail and leisure complex has been at the centre of a heated debate this morning.

Members of Herefordshire Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed the reasons behind cabinet's recent approval of £500,000 towards Old Market developer Stanhope.

The funding shortfall has come about after the scheme's funding partner British Land said market conditions mean it needs to see a change in the financial return it gets from the complex.

Changes to the funding deal means Stanhope expects to receive around £3m less from British Land, meaning they have asked the council to contribute the £500,000 towards the shortfall.

Five recommendations were agreed by Scrutiny during the meeting at the council's Brockington HQ.

They include asking Cabinet, when it meets to discuss the matter on Monday, what steps have been taken to safeguard the council's position under European Procurement laws and ensuring risks are segregated between those that apply to Stanhope and the council.

Scrutiny also wants Cabinet to prove value for money by showing further due diligence and ensure the reasons behind commercial confidentiality are carefully considered.