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Politicians agree plans for £4.3m revamp of The Parade
A multi-million pound scheme to redevelop the top of Watford town centre has been agreed by politicians.
Watford Borough Council's ruling cabinet voted through a scheme to revamp The Parade, which will see a bridge built over the pond, more trees and less clunky street furniture.
The scheme, which should start early next year and take a year to finish, is designed to open the top of the town up to holding more cultural events.
The plans have been extended to roll out the refurbishment of The Parade as far down as Clarendon Road.
However the scheme sparked a clash between the ruling Liberal Democrats and opposition Labour councillors, who questioned whether the borough should lavish £4.3m on the scheme in a recession.
At the meeting Watford's elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, said: "This is absolutely key to investing in the town. It's not about waiting for the town to be dead before trying to revive it.
"It is also with the genuine belief that culture can regenerate the town and add significant value to quality of life."
She added that the scheme would help the economy by creating work and jobs.
Labour councillor Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, who represents the Vicarage area, said his residents questioned the merit of undertaking such an expensive project in the current economic climate.
He said: "To spend £4m on the pond and half a million on consultants fees, it's a lot of money. That's one thing I am concerned about."
The mayor responded by saying the state of the top of the town and the fact it only came alive at night was the biggest concern the council saw in surveys of residents.
She argued that the refurbishment would mean that Watford would be able to attract more businesses to the town that are currently deterred by its tatty appearance.
The mayor added: "When Warner Brothers came to the top of the town they were dismayed and made adverse comments."
Following the debate Manny Lewis, the council's managing director, said that there were big improvements coming to the bottom end of the town such as the Croxley Rail Link and Charter Place redevelopment.
He said this meant that without investment the top of the town and the businesses there would suffer.
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