The former leader of Herefordshire Council has suggested the new Conservative administration want Hereford’s Maylord shopping centre “to fail so they can sell it off to a Tory party donor developer”.

In a letter to the Hereford Times, Coun David Hitchiner, who was ousted as council leader following May’s local elections but remains deputy leader of Independents for Herefordshire group, has questioned the process and motives behind the new Tory cabinet’s surprise move last month to review the Government-funded plan to relocate the city’s library to Maylord, which the council owns.

“The government’s cash to pay for this (£3 million) is already in the council’s bank account and the council’s contribution of £0.5m has already been used in developing designs etc,” he writes.


And he claimed that the cabinet member for assets, Coun Harry Bramer, “failed to consult with the council’s finance director about the financial consequences of the decision for the council”.

But Herefordshire Council has since rejected this claim, stating that its chief financial officer Andrew Lovegrove “was fully consulted on the decision”.

Hereford Times: The Maylord shopping centre at presentThe Maylord shopping centre at present (Image: LDRS)

Mr Lovegrove is discussing the review with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which administers the funding, and which “has confirmed the project adjustment process the council and the Stronger Hereford Board will need to follow if a new location is chosen”, the council’s spokesperson added.


According to a DLUHC spokesperson: “We have not received a project adjustment request from Herefordshire Council.

“If a change request is received for the Maylord library project, we will review and make a decision via our standard processes.”

They added: “Where requests to re-scope projects are submitted, we will deal with these flexibly provided that the changes are still likely to represent good value for money and can be delivered within the programme timeframe.

“All Town Deal funding must be spent by March 2026.”

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Abigail Appleton, who chairs the Stronger Hereford Board that oversees the entire programme locally, said: “We are in ongoing discussions with Herefordshire Council to ensure that the new Library and Resource Centre meets the original scale of ambition, in a city-centre location.

“In the meantime, the other 14 trailblazing projects in our portfolio are continuing to make fantastic progress, which will in no way be impacted by the library decision.”