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Public to be asked over council loan

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Tewkesbury Town Hall

Tewkesbury Town Hall

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PEOPLE in Tewkesbury are to be asked whether they would rather see old buildings sold off rather than agree to the town council borrowing £230,000.

Leaflets are being delivered around the town after the authority revealed it needed the cash to repair two of its three aging buildings – the Town Hall, pictured, and the Watson Hall.

The issue has divided members with some warning the tax payer would be saddled with debt for years if the long-term loan was secured.

Although the council backed the idea of taking out a loan last month, members have now decided they should ask the public for its view before a final decision is made.

The leaflet will be delivered to 6,000 houses in the town, asking people whether they agree with the council borrowing money from the Public Works Loan Board.

In the meantime, the authority will look into whether it meets the criteria to be eligible to borrow the money.

At a full council meeting, the leaflet idea was proposed by Councillor Vernon Smith.

He said: "It's the younger generation that will have to pay this money back if it's decided to take out the loan.

"The public really have a right to have their say."

He said the leaflet should contain the key question on the loan but also one asking people if they felt the council should, instead, sell the Town Hall and Watson Hall, as well as the building housing Tewkesbury Museum and the council's former toilets in Saffron Road.

The idea, he said, would be to raise capital and prevent the council from having to spend thousands of pounds each year on maintaining the buildings.

Mr Smith suggested people should be over 16 to take part in the survey. He said it would cost £275 to get 6,000 leaflets printed but nothing on postage because councillors would deliver them to houses in their wards.

Town mayor Councillor Ken Powell said a decision had to be made soon, before the buildings were no longer safe.

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  • Dave_t10  |  November 15 2012, 11:45PM

    Why not do neither, cut back on some of the pointless services they provide and make some efficiency savings. Unfortunately they don't seem to understand what an efficiency really is. So many councils think that an efficiency is doing less for the same money, no. It's doing the same or more for less money.

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  • dontyaknow  |  November 15 2012, 9:13PM

    I *think* they are intending to lease them back (at least the town hall) so rather than spending thousands every year on maintenance, they will be spending tens of thousands on rent. Of course the loan will take a few years to pay off, but if they go down the lease route, they will be paying rent forever. I have never been down Saffron Road, and don't know the toilets, but are the big enough to fit a 2 bed dwelling on? If they could obtain planning permission for such a thing, the plot of land could fetch £50,000 - £60,000 I would have thought, which would go a long way to helping them out.

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  • Shireresident  |  November 15 2012, 4:17PM

    So where will the Town Council hold its' meetings and keep its' records if all its' property is sold off? Presumably they will have to buy somewhere which they will have to maintain at the tax payers expense. I hope this is factored into the figures presented to residents in their leaflet.

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