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Opposition growing on all sides to Assembly Rooms plan

(January 26, 2010)
AN angry reaction to local taxpayers being asked to fork out a seven figure sum to move Warminster Town Council a few hundred yards is growing.
Councillors are  now under an intense spotlight as the public wake up to the implications of their empire building at a time when everyone else is forced to cut back.
"Its a disgrace. An absolute disgrace," said former Mayor Richard Phillips.
The issue of what to do with the Assembly Rooms has become the focus of a loan application that will cost well over £1.5million to repay.
"What's wrong with Dewey House?" challenged Richard. "It is perfectly good.
"It really winds me up. It really does. This is our money, this lady's money, your money."
John Syme, another former councillor with nearly two decades' experience, is up in arms after co-authors Steve Dancey and Paul Macdonald exposed the true financial implications.
"I'll shall be writing letters about this," he said. "You are so right what you said in the Warminster Journal."
Paul and Steve told the local paper the reasons why they are considering organising a parish poll (see hot topics).
Bigging Up
A visit to Wiltshire Council planning reveals that the town council have only submitted a full application for 'Change of use of part of existing building to form offices and Council Chamber for Warminster Town Council'.
The planning application is limited to this because nothing else is changing in the use of the building.
"I was stopped dozens of times this weekend by concerned townsfolk about this," says Paul Macdonald. "We have been encouraged not to let this rest.
"As the planning application appears to bear out this is not so much about doing the right thing for the community using our money but more about 'bigging up' the council and the mayoral office.
"It is also reported to be part of their ideas to have a coffee shop. I wonder what businesses like Jacqueline's in the High Street will make of that?
"It is one thing to have an occasional bar and kitchen associated with functions but another thing to put the town council in conflict with hardworking local entrepreneurs."
Amongst those relatively new to the town but showing an interest in its future there is also great concern.
"I think that a Parish Poll should be called on the issue of the Assembly Rooms," says Simon Burn of
"We've got different views, I think, on what should be happening with the Assembly Rooms, Town Hall, etc," adds Simon.
"But (we) are definitely agreed that a small band of councillors should not be committing us to such a large, and probably unpopular, scheme without proper public consultation."
*The only councillor to have his vote recorded against this decision (which is vital if councillors fall liable to a surcharge) has explained more of his thinking to (see today's hot topics).

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