Referendum plea over town hall

PUBLISHED: 12:27 20 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:31 06 May 2010

A leading councillor has called for a referendum to decide the future of Baldock Town Hall. The plea has come after he voiced fears that the landmark building might be sold off for flats or offices Baldock town councillor Michael Muir said: What I would

A leading councillor has called for a referendum to decide the future of Baldock Town Hall.

The plea has come after he voiced fears that the landmark building might be sold off for flats or offices

Baldock town councillor Michael Muir said: "What I would like to see done before the council makes any decision on it is a referendum in the town. Lay out all the facts and consult every voter."

He added: "I'm very fearful that the council might sell it to a commercial enterprise for flats or offices. I don't want to lose it to the town."

The town hall has been an important landmark for more than 100 years and many people are anxious to protect the character and heritage of the town.

Businesses, community groups, existing users of the town hall and those previously involved in town strategy meetings have so far been included in talks with North Hertfordshire District Council but this only represents a fraction of Baldock residents.

Lee Butler, member of the Baldock Town Hall independent stakeholder group, said: "We carried out an independent survey and 910 people out of 5,000 replied which means there is quite clearly a wide public interest in the subject."

Out of these replies, 93 per cent are against the idea of the town hall being sold and 89 per cent think it should be kept for community use.

Cllr Muir said: "My wish is that the council should spend money to bring the town hall up to the right standard and then a management committee take it over. I'm 100 per cent certain they could manage it without any cost to the council but it must be refurbished first. The community centre has a management committee and we run at a profit. It is proven to work."

Mr Butler said: "Baldock Town Hall lies at the very heart of the town and a large number of people who took the time to tell us their thoughts as part of our survey are going to be offered no chance to officially feed into the process."

The final decision on the future of the town hall will be made in late September.

Potential uses of the town hall include a café, meeting rooms and a museum.

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