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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Cumbrian council's plans to take over town hall set to be abandoned

Plans to buy or lease Workington town hall look likely to be abandoned.

Allerdale council, which owns the Oxford Street building, had offered to lease it to the town council for £25,000 a year or to sell it to them for £250,000.

But the town council’s policy and resources committee recommended that the proposals were rejected ‘under the terms offered’.

Instead they want the borough council to offer it to a third party trust which would run it for the benefit of the people of Workington.

Under the plans the trust would be made up of representatives from both councils and possibly other partners.

Town clerk Chris Bagshaw, said: “The town council doesn’t feel that buying the town hall outright from Allerdale Council is necessarily the best option because it would tie up most of our capital reserves, and we would be left with nothing to develop the site with.”

He added that there was also a question mark over whether a building owned by the people of Workington should be bought or sold.

The full council is due to make its final decision when it meets on Wednesday February 13.

Andrew Lawson, the mayor of Workington, wanted to see the building become a “community hub” with the town council using a few of the rooms and the rest used by community organisations.

The town hall on Oxford Street is worth in the region of £340,000 with a rental value of £45,000 a year but Allerdale Council has offered it to the town council at a reduced rate.

Part of the town council was used as Allerdale council’s customer service centre until May, when it was moved into Allerdale house.

The News & Star asked whether Allerdale council would be amenable to the trust idea. But a council spokeswoman said: “We are unable to provide a response until we have heard from the town council ourselves.”

Allerdale council had previously said that it would wait for the town council’s decision before putting the building on the market.

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