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At last, some common sense in the counil chamber over town hall

(March 15, 2010)

WARMINSTER town council is being asked to think 'holistic' about its 'megaloan' bailing out of their Assembly Rooms and take heed of what the public actually wants.

Councillor Paul Batchelor has tabled a question for discussion at the next full meeting of the council which says 'if we did not already own the AH (Assembly Hall) would we go out and build it today?'

 The town council provoked a strong public backlash when it was revealed that their plans to move their offices to the Assembly Rooms and tackle other problems would need them to go for a £800,000 loan.

Cllr. Batchelor poses another question which links the need for action to the future of the town hall. 

 'Taking a holistic approach to the opportunities now present would the Council consider the sale of the Assembly Hall site for redevelopment to part fund the purchase and revival of the 'Old Town Hall'?'

 He argues that 'two years ago when it was first decided to revive the Assembly Hall (AH) the initial thoughts were to move all the staff into the AH and sell Dewey House to fund part of the works.

 'Although I now understand that the sale of Dewey House is no longer being considered which makes me wonder why we need to move the offices.'

 'The AH no longer meets modern needs which are often catered for better elsewhere.'

 Cllr. Batchelor was the only councillor to vote against the proposal as campaigners outside the council chamber began petitioning for a parish poll on the move.

 'A test question that Councillors should ask  is, if we did not already own the AH would we go out and build it today? Since the future of the AH has been raised in the press it has become clear that generally there is little affection for the AH,' adds Cllr Batchelor.

 'Surveys over recent years have however, shown that the respondents have wanted to see a future found for the building known as the "Old Town Hall".

 'When we first looked at options for the AH the Old Town Hall was in private hands and our only concern was the deterioration of it's appearance and the pigeon infestation. Things have moved on and the building as we understand it are in the hands of a receiver.

 'If this Council is prepared to borrow £800k could it be better spent on something the townspeople want.'

 *Warminster Town Council meet on Monday 22nd March at 7pm at their chamber in Dwey house in North Row.

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