U-turn on council’s town hall move bid

THE borough’s town hall is set to stay put after a dramatic u-turn by councillors on Tuesday.

Senior members of Scarborough Borough Council were asked to make recommendations about proposals to decamp from the town hall and move to Prospect House, based on a business park at Eastfield.

But, after consultation with staff and the public, the leader of the council said they had to take into account more than just the financial benefits.

Consultation revealed 51% of respondents wanted to stay put while 49% were in favour of the move to Prospect House.

However, 62% felt location and council presence within Scarborough town centre was more important than cost.

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting council leader Coun Tom Fox said the decision was “not just about pounds, shillings and pence” as the move had implications for the civic function of the Town Hall as well as its social importance.

Coun Tom Fox did add though that doing nothing with the building which is in urgent need of modernisation was not an option.

He said that the condition of it was “deplorable” and “not fit for purpose” and asked for a working party to be set up to look at new ways of working while bringing the building up to standard.

This includes a £775,000 upgrade of IT systems.

The proposal to move to Eastfield came as part of a £3 million deal the council had already struck with the Homes and Communities Agency who were going to redevelop the town hall and the Futurist sites.

It was an alternative to paying out more than £5 million in maintenance fees over the next 25 years with an extra £465,000 a year on top, plus the £1.7 million needed to upgrade the town hall’s IT facilities.

When the options were outlined in March Nick Edwards, SBC’s head of finance said: “We have looked at the possibility of remaining and that would cost in the region of £650,000 to £700,000 per year - it is, in our financial position, just not affordable.”

Coun Jane Kenyon had said the days of buildings like the town hall are long gone and if the authority stood still it would get “demolished by the future”.

The Cabinet recommendations will be put to the full council today who will make a final decision.

SBC plans to negotiate with the HCA to see if the money can still be invested into the town hall and Futurist sites another way.