23rd Oct, 2016

Calls for Town Hall ground floor to be used

Evesham Editorial 17th Oct, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A RESPECTED former Mayor of Evesham has called on the town council to look at moving back to Evesham Town Hall.

Coun Diana Raphael made the impassioned plea for Evesham Town Council to look at leaving it’s current hub base on Abbey Road and back to the landmark at a meeting on Monday (October 13).

The respected councillor told members she ‘felt very strongly’ on the matter and called on town clerk Stuart Carter to be tasked with carrying out a feasibility study.

“The fact we may only have four years left at the hub where we are now means I think we should look at moving the town clerk’s office and the staff back to the ground floor of the town hall.” she said.

“I do feel very strongly that we should make a better effort to utilise the bottom of the town hall.”

Evesham town hall’s ground floor has been vacant for over a decade following the closure of the former PJ’s Bar.

Various attempts have been made to breathe new life into the venue with proposals including a cafe and continental style piazza by one of the men behind LIFE Emporium, Tony Fisher.

Coun Raphael’s claim Evesham Town Council may only have four years left at the Abbey Road hub was rebuffed by Mr Carter who told members four years were left on the lease but there had been no discussions about the future.

And Coun Gerry O’Donnell cautioned members about ‘stepping on the toes’ of any negotiations between the leaseholders AXA and Wychavon District Council.

“We could probably spend the next two or three hours about how best we could use the bottom part of the town hall.” he said.

“Wychavon are in discussions with AXA and are very keen to see it part of the Market Square redevelopment so I think we have to be very careful about how we proceed.

Coun Andrew Dyke warned of ‘serious financial implications’ for the town council and estimated any move would cost the council close to £50,000 in rent and business rates.

“At the end of the day this council is not going to spend that kind of money. It’s a nice idea but economically it’s a non starter.” he said.

Undeterred, Coun Raphael responded and said: “We have moved offices three times during my time on the council and it has cost us.”

Her comment provoked an angry response from Coun John Smith who branded the claim ‘totally inaccurate’.

Coun Smith proposed Mr Carter be authorised to speak to Wychavon District Council about the current situation and report back to the council

His proposal was overwhelmingly approved by councillors.

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