Town Hall development plans and consultation
The consultation that was held last week in the Town Hall raises more questions than it answers. The project is to be financed by a PWLB loan of over a million pounds, which Mr Loosmore told me would be at a fixed rate of 4.35%. He also assured me that ratepayers would not pay anything extra to repay this. Please would some financial wizard explain how you could borrow this much money, pay it all back and not charge us for it. Moreover nothing these days is “fixed”. Public sector workers thought that their pensions were “fixed”. They’ve found out that they aren’t. The leaflet says that the Chantry Lanesale is expected to raise £250 000, but my understanding it that this site is on a lease and the Town Council doesn’t have power to sell at present. The build cost is a bald statement of £1 million. Usually a build cost just means a shell; fitting out costs a lot more. Fees set at 10% of this cost seem optimistic.
On the structural side people with more professional knowledge than I possess could tell us whether all these proposals will pass the fire safety checks, Building Regulations requirements and Historic Buildings restrictions. As a layman I found myself thinking “I wonder what will happen if there is a fire in the mezzanine offices; I see no escape route”. We have “an unbreakable commitment” from the Council for a Tourist Information Centre, but I can’t see one on the plan. Theatre producers are unlikely to be happy with plans that still leave nowhere for a quick costume change nor any space for props and scenery nearby.
Altogether I feel that the Council have a great deal more to do to convince me that this is a workable proposal in these difficult financial times.