A CONSERVATIVE councillor has questioned Newport City Council’s Labour leader over the authority’s spending on vacant shops.

In 2017, Newport City Council agreed to subsidise rent from vacant units in the Friars Walk shopping centre.

So far the council has spent more than £1.8m on in subsidies to cover the rent of vacant shop units.

A maximum spend of £500,000 a year was placed on the agreement with Talisker Corporation, that owns the centre.

In a council meeting, held on Tuesday, November 23, Cllr Matthew Evans, leader of the Conservative group, questioned why the leader had not attended meetings with Talisker Corporation to tackle the issue of vacant shops.

Cllr Evans, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said to the leader: “Surely you should be on the ball and know about these things.”

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Cllr Mudd said that she did not have the “accountancy skills” and the council is best represented by officers with specified knowledge at the meetings.

Cllr Evans said: “This is not about officers, this is about leadership.”

Cllr Evans mentioned Admiral’s decision to close Admiral House in Newport, leaving another vacant building.

Cllr Mudd stressed that Admiral’s decision did not involve job losses and that they still had significant time left on the lease and would still be paying rent.

The agreement is based on a maximum of 15 years.

The council have spent a total of £1,809,761 on Friars Walk, here is a breakdown of that figure:

2017 – £116,209

2018 – £367,294

2019 – £451,258

2020 – £500,000

2021 (so far) – £375,000