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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Walk away before town hall becomes a white elephant

I read with some amusement the ramblings of Workington councillor Hilary Harrington who was complaining about the cost of renting or buying Workington Town Hall.

She is clearly aggrieved that Cockermouth Town Council bought their town hall from Allerdale for £5 whereas the cost of Workington Town Council buying the town hall will be £250,000.

What she doesn't seem to understand is that the two situations are completely different.

Cockermouth town hall was (and still is) in urgent need of repair. The cost of undertaking those repairs to the building when Allerdale had no use for it directly, was not a cost they wished to bear. Hence the seemingly knock down price to Cockermouth Town Council who are taking on the expense of the repairs and will continue to use the building as their council chamber, Clerk's office and the Tourist Information centre.

Once the repairs have been completed there may well be scope for the Town Council to recoup a little of the cost by renting out parts of the building either permanently or on an ad hoc basis. That said, because of its location, it is 'off the beaten track' and is not a building that would command the value of one in a prime location

Workington town hall is in no urgent need of repair and is in a prime location on one of the main streets across town and next to the busy hospital. Allerdale do have a use for the building currently and in giving this up they would have the cost of relocating staff (any bets on the Wave Centre being the destination? Whoever built that monstrosity certainly had a serious loss of judgement day!).

Workington Town Council will also be asking the question, if we do buy how do we recoup the cost? They will use it as their council chamber no doubt and have an office for the clerk, but beyond that, what use might they put it to?

A tourist information centre? An exhibition space? Or will it end up as a white elephant?

Best Workington Town Council walks away from the deal and lets Allerdale sell it on the open market. And best Ms Harrington gets off her high horse!

By Ashley Tiffen
Published: November 6, 2012

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