Friday, March 06, 2009

Campaign to Keep the Heritage Centre Open- once its gone its gone for good

Once its gone its gone for good.....

Councillor David Brookes - the democratically elected nemesis of culture and history in Uttoxeter is proposing to sell off the Heritage Centre to fill the financial void left by his own daft Tory plans and the alleged maladministration of his incumbent council (awaiting further news about this). This might get Brookes out of his self made hole, but it sacrifices two gems - (1) it destroys the rich heritage of the centre itself, which then goes to pay for retail outlets covering the whole of the ground floor of the 'public space' of (2) the Town Hall, which can then proudly boast its closed shops and to-let signs. You see- the only way they can afford to refurb the Town Hall - is by selling off the Heritage Centre.

How do we hold our councillors to account? Where is the online presence of the council, for scrutiny and debate? Just try searching for council minutes or even a full list of your councillors. Local democracy isn't a mystery - why do these people hide or has the internet not collided with their world yet? Come on people we can do better than this.
Here is the article from the Post & Times where our star councillor and Dairy Farmer talks about the Black Hole of Calcutta!!?
Does he know his history at all? His approach is - as you'll see insensitive, and just a little bit ignorant...Over to you Councillor..the rope is yours...

Councillor David Brookes, chairman of the town hall committee, said: "Having the shops at the back of the building would have been the equivalent of the black hole of Calcutta.

Click here!

"The current plans do not maximise the potential of the building and we are exploring an alternative scheme with retail entering on to the High Street. We need to bring life and footfall back to the town centre.

"It is a listed building but that shouldn't necessarily be a problem if the architect draws up sympathetic plans."

And town clerk Barry Holland revealed there had already been interest from independent retailers for the two proposed units.

Nigel Senior, economic development manager on Staffordshire County Council, added his support, saying: "The inclusion of further additional retail space at the front of the town hall building will help to give the project a greater high street presence, and therefore be a more attractive proposition to tenants."

The changes would involve extending the windows on the front of the building to create new doorways while retaining the arched entrance.

The first retail unit, on the right hand side as people approach the building from the High Street, will extend from the front to the back, covering 1,500sq ft with 500sq ft storage.

A second unit, on the left side, will have a floor space of 650sq ft.

The combined yearly rent for the two shops is expected to bring cash-strapped Uttoxeter Town Council around £65,000 – £35,000 more than if they remain at the rear of the building.

Plans to divide the main hall remain in place with the upstairs being available for hire and the ground floor housing a customer service centre and the relocated heritage centre.

A new tenant for the Carter Street premises, a restored 17th century timber framed building, will then be sought.

Mr Brookes said: "In this economic climate it is not feasible to keep the heritage centre where it is now. It would be best if we sold the building but that decision is one the whole council would make."

The town clerk has already met ESBC planning officer, Joanne Roebuck, to discuss the alterations. Before a revised application is submitted, the full council would have to vote on the updated plans.

But Mr Holland is confident it won't be too long before work gets under way.

He said: "I would expect builders to move in by late summer."

1 comment:

Dave Fortune said...

If the council wants to fund the development of the town hall then selling the heritage centre isn't the way forward. This is becuase it's a huge risk, the buildings might not sell in the present economic situation and there are plenty of other premesis empty in town. There are also better alternatives. You can't build a development projects cornerstone on that uncertainty. A better way would be for the Civic Society to put in a proposal to puschase the building and develop it so that it meets the demands of a 21st century audience, a good plan would see the centre remain in public, but charitable hands, but not cost a penny on the precept in fact it would probably make a surplus in a creatively managed context. Uttoxeter could then have further space in the Town Hall to showcase our understated heritage, a heritage which holds the key to Uttoxeters future.And what happened to all the money in the Townscape initiative? Did Burton bag it all in the end?