Positive talk on future of Hitchin Town Hall
LAST minute plans which could see a town hall transferred to community ownership are said to be going through very positive discussions . Hitchin Initiative manager Keith Hoskins, who is spearheading a community action to take control of Hitchin Town Ha
LAST minute plans which could see a town hall transferred to community ownership are said to be going through "very positive discussions".
Hitchin Initiative manager Keith Hoskins, who is spearheading a community action to take control of Hitchin Town Hall after a public outcry towards a �3.4m plan by North Herts District Council to turn it into a district museum, has said talks are going well.
The Initiative, which promotes businesses in the town and was the force behind the rejuvenated Hitchin Market and the Hitchin BID, is drawing up plans alongside the council and the Communities Development Trust to come up with a feasible plan.
Opposition groups, which had complained that the museum plan was being railroaded through by the council without looking at possible alternatives, were given a reprieve in December after councillors voted to delay a vote on the scheme to allow the Initiative to come up with a business plan.
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Initiative manager Mr Hoskins said it was too early to give specifics, but said funding would likely come from an application to the Government's Community Builders Fund after a trust had been set up to manage the hall.
He said: "We are working furiously away having in depth discussions with the Communities Development Trust and with the district council. There's some very positive discussions being had."
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But he tempered this with a note of caution: "We are aware that there's a time scale but we will do the best we can. It may well be that in the final analysis we may not succeed."
The Initiative's plan will be discussed and voted on at a special full council meeting on February 11 after it was decided there would not be enough time to debate the issue on the original scheduled date of February 4.
A separate move by conservation group Keep Hitchin Special requesting grade listing protection for the late Victorian hall is being investigated by English Heritage after an inspector visited the building in December.