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Town Hall split use plan is agreed
8:00am Friday 27th July 2012 in News
A GROUND-breaking initiative to split the use of Brentwood Town Hall has been agreed.
The proposal for shared use was discussed by councillors last week, but although the project was almost unanimously supported, there was still lively debate at the meeting.
The future of the two-thirds empty building was the subject of a year of meetings by a group of councillors who came up with five options.
The preferred proposal was to keep part of the building for civic use, let a large chunk to a commercial operator and keep a smaller section for community use.
Russell Quirk, chairman of the town hall delivery group, said: “What we’ve had to do is find out what the spare space is costing us, and therefore the taxpayer, and we’ve had to walk a difficult line to find a solution.”
The council committed last year to retaining the building for council use. The first flashpoint last week was a declaration from Chris Hossack (Con, Hutton East) that he would vote against the project.
He said he had conducted his own research and the serviced office market was not buoyant and the proposal was not viable.
The second disagreement involved a proposal from David Kendall, leader of the Lib Dem group, to invite Louse McKinlay, the council leader, and Roger Hurst, the council’s deputy leader, on to the town hall delivery group. Mrs McKinlay declined, but a vote finally forced the pair to join.
The new arrangement will mean for the next 25 to 30 years, depending on the length of lease to a third party, the business rates and costs of running the building will be shared, saving the council about £600,000 per year. The council could also attract an income in rent.