Call for Wigan MP to speak on Chinese firm's involvement in town centre masterplan

The leader of the opposition in the council chamber has challenged Lisa Nandy to criticise one of the partners for the redevelopment of The Galleries.
Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

Coun Michael Winstanley, who leads the Conservative group in borough politics, said Ms Nandy should not approve of Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI) being involved in the £130m masterplan.

He said this did not tally with her comments on Twitter in her national role as shadow foreign secretary which included strong criticism of China.

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However, after having a briefing with Wigan Council’s director of economy and skills Becca Heron about the transformation of The Galleries Ms Nandy did not offer any negative comments about BCEGI’s involvement.

Coun Michael WinstanleyCoun Michael Winstanley
Coun Michael Winstanley

Coun Winstanley said: “She has been very vocal on what the Government should be doing about China and its appalling human rights record, yet has been remarkably quiet about Wigan Council giving this contract to a Chinese state-owned firm.

“I would have thought she would have banging the drum on this and condemning it.

“I don’t think we should be giving any public money to a company that is Chinese state owned.

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“It has caused a lot of unease and it’s interesting Lisa Nandy has said absolutely nothing about this happening in her back yard.

“I think the involvement of this construction company raises a great deal of concern.”

Ms Nandy’s office said she and Ms Heron discussed BCEGI’s role in the masterplan and further briefings would be held as the project goes forward.

She said she would continue to work with Wigan Council to ensure the interests of the borough’s residents remained at the heart of the development.

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She added: “All councillors have been offered a full briefing by the council and I would strongly recommend that they avail themselves of that offer.”

In her shadow cabinet post Ms Nandy has called on the Government to do more in response to China’s crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong and against officials responsible for persecution of the Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

She tweeted last month: “The fate of the Uyghur people is directly tied to Britain through our global supply chains. We have no right to ignore this. We must act now.”

Coun Winstanley also clashed with the town hall over communication with elected representatives.

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He said the councillors were not briefed about the plans for The Galleries.

He said: “I think the way the whole thing has been handled is poor. I’ve got major concerns about it.”

However, Wigan Council said a special member briefing was held about the masterplan before the press release was sent.

The town hall said elected representatives have also been invited to a briefing to learn more about the formal procurement process.

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