Labour Group response to Scarborough Borough Council Town Hall Accommodation Review
THE Town Hall should stay where it is according to members of the Labour Group on Scarborough Borough Council.
In an interim statement issued yesterday, the group voiced its opposition to the controversial proposals.
Colin Challen, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group said: “We first called for a public consultation on these plans in August last year; and although it’s taken other members of the council a long time to catch up we are pleased that they finally agreed to put the matter out to public consultation.
“This is our provisional response, and it will guide our decision at the full Council meeting on July 20, unless there is a significant change in the facts.”
Labour Group Leader Eric Broadbent added: “We do not believe that moving the Council’s administration out of the Town Hall into Prospect House, a property more than 3 miles away would be in the best interests of the Borough and especially not in the best interests of the town of Scarborough”.
“We acknowledge that a small saving could be made – representing perhaps one third of one per cent of the Council’s budget, but this does not outweigh the loss of such an important function in the heart of Scarborough,” said Cllr Challen.
“Setting aside the financial aspects of the deal which relate to the Joint Venture (JV) with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to redevelop the Town Hall/Futurist site, we find that using the Council’s own figures, the cost of purchasing, moving and planning, a new Customer First, and 25 years maintenance of Prospect House – minus the sale income from selling the Town Hall – would amount to £4,246,880. This compares with the £5,800,000 independent assessment of staying in the Town Hall for 25 years. Hence over a 25 year period, the move appears to be £62,124 per annum cheaper,” he added.
Cllr Broadbent went on to say: “Of course, we cannot ignore the Joint Venture, which provides the opportunity for the Council to work with the HCA to secure redevelopment of the whole site.
“The Council has secured what amounts to an advance of £3 million to facilitate its early purchase of Prospect House in a complex deal into which the Council would itself inject a further £1.8 and so provide the JV with a net working capital of £1.8 million.
“It has not been explained however what the costs of redevelopment are, nor what the value of the remainder of the site beyond the Town Hall is.
“Without these details, nor any indication of whether a high quality development which includes a major tourist attraction will be built in a timely fashion, we believe that the present economic circumstances create a significant risk that no development will take place which is satisfactory for such an important site. Scarborough could be left with its own equivalent of a ‘Bradford Hole’ which would be much more serious for a town which relies on its attraction to tourists for so much of its economy. “Set against this we would see the town centre losing 300 well paid permanent jobs and the implications of that.”
Cllr Challen said: “Our concerns also extend to the democratic function of the Council. It appears to us that this role could be sidelined if the move went ahead. Whilst it is true that not many people attend Council meetings they have an easy option to do so, but for many people getting to Eastfield would require two or more bus journeys.
“The £128,000 adaptation costs earmarked in the Prospect House move for the civic function suggests that the democratic and civic functions are foreseen as having a much diminished role in the new arrangements.
“One of the strong views enunciated in the consultation process has been how remote the Council is already perceived to be. This move would not help”.
This brief report only summarises the Labour Group’s thinking.