Completion of North Herts Museum to go ahead after deal gets green light
PUBLISHED: 06:55 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:25 22 November 2018
Danny Loo Photography 2018
Development of the North Hertfordshire Museum will now be completed, after the sale of its entrance – 14/15 Brand Street – was approved on Tuesday night.
North Hertfordshire District Council had said that a minor amendment had to be agreed with Hitchin Town Hall Ltd and bankers HTH Finance Ltd before the sale of the museum entrance could be green-lit.
Councillor Tony Hunter, the district council’s executive member for community engagement, said: “At its meeting last night, NHDC’s cabinet agreed to the purchase of 14/15 Brand Street from Hitchin Town Hall Ltd.
“This will enable the council to complete the development of the North Hertfordshire Museum and Hitchin Town Hall project and operate the facility for the benefit of the local community.
“We are now in a position where the parties will proceed to carry out the necessary legal steps to conclude the transaction.”
Before the agreement the district council has been deadlocked with charitable Trust Hitchin Town Hall Ltd and its bankers HTH Finance Ltd over the purchase of 14/15 Brand Street for more than two years,
And during this time, the Conservative-run council has managed to get the museum open – without access to parts of it that are in 14/15 Brand Street.
In a joint statement to the Comet, Stephen Pike, chair of trustees of Hitchin Town Hall Ltd, and a spokesman for HTH Finance Ltd said: “Hitchin Town Hall Ltd and HTH Finance Ltd are pleased that cabinet have approved the wording of the Settlement Agreement approved by HTH members at their EGM on October 30.
“The district museum can now be opened to the public and we look forward to the official opening.
“Legal documentation will need to be signed but in the meantime we wish to work with NHDC and request that they take up our offer so that the hardworking museum staff can have access to their three rooms and use our lift.
“HTH a registered charity has achieved its objectives ensuring that the town hall will always be a community asset and that if NHDC no longer wish to own/operate they will always give five years’ notice so that the residents have time raise funds to purchase and manage it.
Mr Pike added: “We’re delighted that we agreed the arrangements with NHDC particularly protecting the town hall with a five-year rolling arrangement such that if the NHDC decided that they no longer wish to operate the town hall for the community we would have an opportunity to either acquire or run, so that’s exactly what we’ve been holding out on for years and we are delighted that we eventually got there.”
Following the agreement, the district council has said a further statement will be issued in due course.