THE ongoing saga of faltering progress at Firepool faces yet another setback after a major player parted company with the council.

Plans for the former livestock market site should be ripped up after Taunton Deane Borough Council's break up with its development partner St Modwen, according to an opposition councillor.

The council issued a statement yesterday (Wednesday) announcing the split of the two organisations more than ten years after the land became vacant after the market moved to North Petherton.

It calls into question the future of a planned multi-million development of shops including a supermarket, offices, homes and leisure facilities on the overgrown wasteland.

St Modwen pulled out after deciding to focus on commercial/industrial and residential schemes rather than mixed use, town centre regeneration projects.

A Deane spokesman said the nine-year partnership has seen the building of Viridor's HQ, 49 new homes and public space, as well as securing outline planning consent for the Firepool development.

But LibDem district councillor Habib Farbahi said: "Good riddance to St Modwen - not before time. They haven't delivered anything in almost ten years.

"We're back to square one, where we were ten years ago having spent millions of pounds on consultants with nothing to show for it.

"We need to scrap the plans for Firepool and start again. Who needs a retail offering anyway when everything in that sector is falling apart?

"We need to look at what we're doing successfully and what is successful in the market nationwide."

Council leader John Williams said St Modwen's work had laid the foundation for future development of the prime site.

He said: "We remain fully committed to developing a high quality mixed use regeneration scheme for Firepool, providing a fantastic riverside environment and creating strong links between the town centre and the railway station."

He said the end of the St Modwen partnership would not affect the Deane's intention to deliver schemes such as the Coal Orchard development of homes, shops and workplaces or the enhancement of Taunton Station.

He added: "These projects are examples of an increasingly commercial approach where we are investing directly to create social and economic benefit as well as generating financial return for investment in community services."