Sheringham Town Council decision over buying new community centre

PUBLISHED: 01:43 30 January 2013 | UPDATED: 01:43 30 January 2013

Sheringham's new community centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham's new community centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

After an 11th hour wobble, Sheringham Town Council has decided to press ahead with buying the town’s new community centre.

With the complex almost finished, councillors, some of whom were concerned about the costs of running the facility, had a business plan carried out including looking at relocating the council offices to the new building.

Presenting it to a meeting last night Janet Farrow said the new centre could have a £12,500 annual deficit, but that the old centre and town hall ran £14,000 and £13,000 losses.

A lot of people were looking forward to the new centre but it was also a potential liability to local taxpayers through a £100,000 Public Works Loan towards the £173,000 purchase price - and needed to be used and marketed well. Moving the council was likely to be controversial but could get £170,000 from selling the town hall.

Madeleine Ashcroft urged the council to rethink its work, drag itself out of the past and clear the way for new ideas and an exciting future.

Peter Cox however said while the air was full of optimism the many unknown costs had to be considered in depth to see if the building was affordable for the 7,000 local taxpayers.

“Ratepayers will support this at £20,000 to £40,000 a year. We turned down running the tourist information centre because it would have cost £30,000 so why spend the same amount on this?” he asked, urging the council to proceed with caution.

Tricia Brooks however said the council should seek to make the centre work rather than walking away from the deal.

And Richard Hewitt said that with three buildings all in the red it made since to move to the newest one with the most potential and have just one deficit.

Mayor Doug Smith said the new centre was “affordable, desirable and practical”, and that moving the council there was a “marriage made in heaven.

After a 2½ hour debate and a trio of votes the council agreed 11-2 to press ahead with the purchase, and to relocate the council there as soon as practicable.

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