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Hopes to save 'iconic' town hall by focusing more on community

PUBLISHED: 17:19 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:35 05 February 2020

Downham Market town councillors discussed plans to rebrand the town hall at a meeting on Tuesday, February 4.  Photo: Sarah Hussain

Downham Market town councillors discussed plans to rebrand the town hall at a meeting on Tuesday, February 4. Photo: Sarah Hussain

Archant

Ideas for the future use of a town hall were discussed at a town council meeting following concerns the building was "not making any money."

Members of Downham Market town council's working party group stressed changes had to be made to safeguard the future of its town hall saying more needed to be done to make it attractive to the community.

The group proposed the building on Bridge Street be renamed as a community and arts centre to turn it into something residents want and use.

Councillors discussed the idea at a meeting held at the town hall on Tuesday, February 4 and voted in favour of the change.

Alan Pickering, a member of the working party, said the current building was "not making any money" and argued changes were necessary for the benefit of the community.

He added: "It's going to cost us more than £10,000 just to maintain."

Deputy mayor Jenny Groom questioned its practicality as an arts centre and suggested naming it a community hub would be a better option.

Mrs Groom said: "It has always been my dream to have an arts centre in Downham Market.

"But to brand it as a community art centre is a massive investment.

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"There's a massive amount of work to make it into an art centre.

"To brand it as an art centre would give it a slightly wrong expression of what you're doing."

Whilst mayor Becky Hayes questioned its overall achievement, asking members of the working party how it would fit in with the "overall fitting of Downham Market."

Mrs Hayes said: "This is an iconic building in Downham. I'm up for rebranding it. But it is a community decision and not a town council decision."

She suggested a public consultation take place to see whether it was a good idea and see whether it is what people want.

Adding she did not want it to be a "piecemeal" saying the council have fallen foul of that before.

Councillors also discussed the possibility of moving the town council's offices from the building on Paradise Road into the town hall.

Mr Pickering said the party believes this strategy is what the town wants.

He added: "There have been no objections so far.

"It's a question of if we're not careful, it will stagnate and nothing will happen. Let's get on with it."

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