Council Buy £200 000 Building
February 4th 2011
The Old Magistrates Court
The Town Hall
What is interesting about this deal is that information about it has been embargoed for several months. The general public have only been allowed to learn about it now that the vote has been taken and the property deeds are already signed. There has therefore been no public consultation.
The purchase is to be financed by debt, because Louth Town Council doesn't actually have £200 000. The loan will be repaid over 10 years.
The move comes at a time when the same council has closed the toilets at Hubbards Hills for financial reasons. When we're always hearing about austerity and cutbacks, why is the town council splashing out on this building?
The town hall where the council currently holds its fortnightly meetings is dogged with maintenance problems because it's very old and in need of refurbishment. ELDC owns the town hall. When the council moves out it remains to be seen what use will be made of that space.
Of the 21 town councillors, only two voted against of the purchase. The votes break down as follows:
Laura Stephenson was one of the councillors who opposed the move. "I'm uncomfortable with the secrecy," she said. "Spending this much money when there's a recession on seems wasteful, and I really don't see that we've moved anywhere better. We're supposed to be a Transition Town. We should have moved to somewhere more ecologically friendly."
A document issued by the Ministry of Justice estimated the running costs for the Magistrates Court in the financial year 2009/10 at around £25,500 for maintenance and rates.
To put the cost of buying the Magistrates Court in context, the Town Council had income and expenditure of around £221 000 in the year ending March 2010, according to their published accounts.
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