For sale?

PUBLISHED: 11:06 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 May 2010

Is Hitchin Town Hall going to be sold?

Is Hitchin Town Hall going to be sold?

THERE are mounting fears that discussions in the next few weeks over the future of Hitchin Town Hall could see it being put up for sale. The Comet has learnt that as part of the agenda for the next meeting of North Hertfordshire District Council s Cabine

THERE are mounting fears that discussions in the next few weeks over the future of Hitchin Town Hall could see it being put up for sale.

The Comet has learnt that as part of the agenda for the next meeting of North Hertfordshire District Council's Cabinet on December 19, the options available with regards to the hall, in Brand Street, are likely to be discussed.

And according to one reliable source, who wished to remain anonymous, selling the building is just one of the ideas being banded around.

When asked if they could confirm or deny this, a spokesman for the council said: "It is anticipated that a further report that provides further details of how the council is implementing its previously agreed approach will be going to the December Cabinet meeting."

The council's position set out in a Cabinet agenda in March this year stated: "It remains the council's intention to secure both alternative management arrangements in the provision of services and also the refurbishment of the premises which, it is acknowledged, are in need of improvements."

With the future of the town hall uncertain, Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins reiterated that it is important to keep the town's facilities for people to use.

Mr Hoskins said: "In the town at the moment we have issues over the hall, as well as the museum and the market.

"It's important that in market towns which act as a service centre for all of the other smaller villages in the hinterland that we maintain a range of services and functions that meet the needs of the town and the larger area.

"We need to make sure we keep those facilities for these people to use."

Last year Mr Hoskins tried to organise a business plan for the town hall with help from a £200,000 bursary from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

This money was contingent of council support of around £500,000 but in the end the plans never came to fruition and the bursary had to be returned to the EEDA.

Mr Hoskins said: "Whether that's something that could be revisited in light of the work the council has done since we put that picture in front of them we shall have to wait and see."

The chairman of the Hitchin committee, Cllr Judi Billing, said she would resist any attempt to put the building up for sale.

She said: "I would totally oppose any plans to sell or do anything else to the town hall which takes it out of the hands of Hitchin people to use and enjoy.

"I expect Hitchin committee to take a robust and determined line on this, both in terms of the dreadful state of repair of the building which needs urgent attention, and also in terms of its accessibility to the people and organisations which flourish in Hitchin.

"I will also be calling for a full public consultation on the proposals - one which will actually make a difference, rather than just being a tick-box exercise.

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