Ball in opponent's court as vote on Hitchin town hall deferred

OPPONENTS of a controversial plan to turn a town hall into a district museum claimed a victory last night as a crucial vote was deferred to allow time for other plans to be brought forward. A packed public gallery at North Herts District Council s cha

OPPONENTS of a controversial plan to turn a town hall into a district museum claimed a victory last night as a crucial vote was deferred to allow time for other plans to be brought forward.

A packed public gallery at North Herts District Council's chambers heard the news they had hoped for last night as councillors backed a motion to defer a vote on whether to approve �3.4m of taxpayers' money to convert Hitchin Town Hall into a North Herts museum.

After intense pressure from action groups and opposition from Labour and Lib Dem councillors, members of the ruling Tory party went against the recommendations of their front bench, and put forward an amendment to delay a vote until February 4. This they argued would allow time for alternative plans for the hall to be "submitted, examined and reported on" by the council.

Councillor Richard Thake, who moved the amendment, said: "I don't think anyone can doubt the immense passion that this issue has raised. I put it to you that it would be foolish not to look at alternative options. I haven't seen a business plan, but what I do know, is that if we don't look at other alternatives, I will never know."


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A plan by Hitchin Initiative, promoters of the town's business community and the force behind the rejuvenated market and Hitchin BID, has said it is preparing a plan to run the hall as a town community centre in collaboration with the townsfolk.

Labour and Lib Dem politicians said the amendment must not be a delaying tactic, but be used as a serious opportunity to engage with the community.

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