War of words over proposed community hall hots up - The Evesham Observer

War of words over proposed community hall hots up

Evesham Editorial 30th Jun, 2018   0

A FORMER Mayor of Pershore has claimed plans for a brand new community hall on the Cemetery Field on the outskirts of town have ‘no legitimacy’, despite Pershore residents backing the scheme in a consultation.

Coun Charles Tucker made the extraordinary claim after Pershore Town Council chiefs considered a bid to Wychavon District Council for New Homes Bonus money to fund the new hall.

The Observer reported last month on the green light for the plans after a consultation which saw 142 residents have their say with a majority of response stating a new community hall for the town should be based at Pershore Cemetery.

If given the green light, the new venue will provide a vital lifeline for a host of town groups but a furious Coun Tucker slammed his fellow town councillors for pressing ahead with the project.

Speaking before a meeting on Tuesday which will see four companies present their designs for a new community hall, Coun Tucker claimed a new hall should be built in the town centre.

“No-one I have spoken to in the town in recent weeks supports this plan. Everyone feels a hall, if it is required, should be in the town centre.”

“The Town Council has yet to seek planning permission for the hall and will rely on getting New Homes Bonus funding from Wychavon to build it. A key aspect of getting the funding will be evidence of community support.

“Only 63 people supported the proposal in the consultation earlier this year, a tiny fraction of the town’s 7,000 population.

” And even when the council approved the plan, it was on a vote of only six councillors out of the total 15. This decision has no legitimacy.”

Coun Tucker said any new hall on Cemetery Field would ensure local people had to drive to the site as very few buses currently run past the area and repeated his claim from earlier this year a development would ‘open the floodgates’ to developers seeking to build houses on the land up to Tiddesley Wood.

“The council seems hell-bent on driving ahead with the Cemetery Hall, despite the lack of support within the town. A community hall needs to be in the centre of the town and could be achieved by adding a second floor to the Town Hall.

“But so far the council has refused to investigate this in a meaningful way.”

“The Town Council must reconsider this plan and look again at extending the town hall. This would provide a town centre site that is ideally placed to serve the community,” he added.

FURIOUS town council chiefs have hit back at Coun Tucker’s claims and called on the former Mayor to move forward and help provide a ‘wonderful’ new venue for Pershore residents.

In a statement to the Observer, the town council confirmed a meeting would be held on Tuesday for four local architects to present plans for what could be achieved for a new community hall in Pershore.

“It is most unlikely a decision will be taken at the meeting but even if it were, it would not be to appoint a contractor, as suggested by Coun Tucker, but to appoint an architect to guide the council through what will be a relatively long and complex process,” the statement read.

Two public consultations have taken place regarding the proposed hall in the last 12 months. On both occasions a large percentage believed a new hall was needed and the majority of those who responded wanted the hall to be on the field off Defford Road.

“In fact in both consultations those believing the Town Hall was the best location were very much in the minority, an average of 24.5 per cent.

“Additionally, all advice from professional consultants indicates that a second floor on the town hall would be unaffordable.

“583 questionnaires were given out across the two consultations with 291, almost five per cent of the electorate, responding. This is generally regarded as a good response.

“If the residents Cllr Tucker has spoken to feel that strongly, one would assume they formed part of these consultations and their views were therefore actually in the minority.

“Members of the Town Council totally understand Coun Tucker has a different view to the majority of the council for the location of the hall to which, of course, he is entitled.

“However, on no occasion have more than three members out of 15 voted against any of the hall proposals. Whilst not all members were present for the final vote, nine were, of whom six voted in favour, a democratic, legitimate and legal decision which unfortunately, Coun Tucker seems unable to accept.

Mayor of Pershore, Coun Chris Parsons said: “As Mayor I am extremely sorry Coun Tucker appears unable to accept the council’s democratic decision. I have worked hard to try to bring all members on board with this exciting new project and it is a great shame he believes that having this debate in the press will encourage the Town Council to reverse its decision.

Visit the town hall or e-mail the Town Clerk on [email protected] for more.

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