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READER LETTER: 'Think twice before moving town council'

PUBLISHED: 18:25 20 March 2019

Sheringham Town Hall, which could be let or sold after a proposed move to the town community centre.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham Town Hall, which could be let or sold after a proposed move to the town community centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

Regarding the relocation of Sheringham Town Council, the town council represents and serves the residents of the town. All actions by the council should be for the benefit of the residents.

The council is the named owner of assets to the value of £5m, but they are held in trust for the residents.

Altering the status of, or selling a major asset should only be done after complete consultation with the residents.

The report about the relocation of the council that has been on the North Norfolk News website since March 6 contains inaccuracies and misleading information.

Much of it is the personal opinion of some town councillors, there is not an official report by a professional person to say the town hall is not fit for purpose.

The percentages quoted in the report are taken from an anonymous online survey conducted by the council in July 2018, people were asked to give opinions without receiving information about the questions.

Only 86 people answered the questions about the community centre and town hall.

They were told that the community centre loses nearly £50,000 a year, when less than 5pc of the residents use it.

Forty-four of the respondents said they had never been inside the town hall, but continued to comment on its suitability.

No council should make major decisions based on the 1pc of residents they represent.

For the people that have not been inside the town hall, it was built in 1912, so it has been the council offices for 107 years. It is close to the town centre. Holt Town Council has just spent £400,000 to move out of Holt Community Centre and into an even older building in Holt town centre.

More than 10 years ago Cromer Town Council spent nearly £500,000 to continue operating from the building in North Lodge Park, which is much older than Sheringham Town Hall.

Cromer and Holt had to put a high debt burden on their residents to secure their town halls, that was not necessary in Sheringham, the council bought the town hall more than 30 years ago at a very low price.

In the last 20 years there has been a process of modernisation – rewiring of the building, a new heating system, installation of secondary glazing, the loft has been insulated, installation of disabled access to the building, drains and down pipes have been replaced, the ground floor toilet is available for disabled use, on the wide stairs, with a specious and central platform, a chairlift has been installed.

The rental income from the tenants on the ground floor reduces the annual net running costs of the building to less than £10,000.

Buying the community centre placed a huge debt burden on the residents of Sheringham.

Over the last five years the deficit on the annual running costs total more than £300,000. For a building that is only six years old the council has spent about £20,000 on repairs, that is without attending to a leaking roof.

The floor in the main hall already needs to be relaid and it has been recommended that an air-conditioning system be installed, the cost of both is about £30,000.

The maintenance costs of the building will continue to be high over its 60-year life expectancy, a replacement will cost many millions. The solidly built town hall will still be in good conditions 100 years from now.

Too many members of Sheringham Town Council want to keep the majority of members ignorant of the facts. Residents have a legal right to challenge the actions of their council.

If you oppose the relocation of the council then write or email them now. Phoning or tweeting will not be enough. Do not leave it to others, because they may be leaving it to you.

PETER COX

St Peters Road

Sheringam

MORE: Future of Sheringham Town Hall in question after council agrees to relocate

-What do you think? To share your own views on this issue or others, email nnn.letters@archant.co.uk

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