Town Council Vote Against Pursuing School Building Acquisition

Town Council Vote Against Pursuing School Building Acquisition
Town Council Vote Against Pursuing School Building Acquisition

Town Council has voted against pursuing the acquisition of a building formerly used by .

At a meeting held on Thursday evening, the council acknowledged that the cost of the project would be financially reckless.

The following motion was agreed by Town Council at a meeting on 2 January.

“This Council values the feasibility report undertaken to create a community hub for in the old St Nicholas’ school building.

“However, this Council believes that the financial risk of borrowing up to 2 million pounds to complete this project is considerably more than originally envisaged. It would be financially reckless and would burden the taxpayers for decades to come.

“This Council, therefore, resolves to inform ERYC that we are not in a position to commit to this project.”

Speaking on behalf of the majority Liberal Democrat group, Cllr said;

‘We owed it to the community to really try and assess the possibility of saving St Nicholas’s school for the community. The vision was there, but in the end, it all came down to economic reality.

“The Consultant’s report that we commissioned, showed that the building was in such an advanced state of disrepair, that it would have cost 1.9 million pounds to carry out the necessary refurbishments. That’s in addition to the cost of buying the building from .

“That’s all money that the Town Council would need to borrow, and it would have taken decades to repay it.  We have to be financially responsible with taxpayers’ money, and the public of wouldn’t have thanked the Town Council for tying a financial noose around their necks with mountains of debt for decades to come.

‘Town Councillors have a responsibility to be financially prudent. We have been entrusted with Beverley’s public finances, and whilst it would have been fantastic to realise the dream of a community hub in a much-loved building, public borrowing on such a vast scale would have been reckless in the extreme, and not something that a responsible Liberal Democrat administration is prepared to countenance.”

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. What this article fails to report is the arguments put forward by the Labour Group and Councillor Ian Gow in the meeting in favour of continuing negotiation with ERYC for the site, rejecting the only choices suggested by the LibDems being to reject the sale or accept the cost suggested of £1.9million based on what were worst-case scenario figure. We set out alternative options for consideration including demolishing the building whilst preserving elements of the facade to honour the memory of the school and constructing a new facility in a phased programme of works allowing time to apply for grant funding to support some aspects of the project. The cost would be significantly less than the figures bandied about here and produce a better quality build with a longer life span which could have included significant green and other efficient features.
    Our proposal was to return to ERYC to negotiate further as we believed there was still scope for movement from ERYC on the terms and conditions for the acquisition including the cost of the site. We could have accommodated the Track Fitness Boxing club in a temporary structure on the site as outlined in the consultants’ report which would have given them a new home and time to apply for grant funding to bodies like Sports England towards a permanent structure. The proposal did not rule out the possibility of still deciding against the scheme down the line if the figures did not stack, but would have bought time (which ERYC had indicated they were willing to give us in the negotiation) and the chance of achieving something of real value.
    As it was, it was clear the LibDems had come to the meeting with their minds already made up to kill the St Nicholas project. They refused to listen to any of our arguments for different options and less costly scenarios and stuck to the “It’s £1.9million or nothing.”
    There is no other site in Beverley that offers the location and possibilities that the St Nicholas school site does. The LibDems have missed the best chance the council has and will have to provide something more substantial to the town than allotments, flowers and a couple of food festivals.
    Their claims of financial prudence in fact mean Beverley Town Council is sitting on around £750,000 of residents money in reserves, and a precept levy in 2019/20 of nearly £300,000 for what seems to me to be very little benefit to the tax payers. No other town/parish council in the East Riding charges so much and provides so little in return by way of services and council-owned assets/facilities. This was our chance to remedy that situation and it has been lost through a lack of vision and what I can only describe as political small-mindedness and fiscal cowardice.
    I note that Paul Smith did not see fit to attend this important meeting, but his report relies entirely on what the LibDems have fed back to him.
    This is the text of the resolution I proposed on behalf of the Labour Group, which was supported by Councillor Gow and was voted down by the LibDems supported by Councillor Duncan Jack: “That the Council pursue negotiations with East Riding Council on the terms of the acquisition to discuss an arrangement that properly reflects the social benefit provided by the project, the accommodation of the Boxing Club on the site, and any other financial elements or contractual possibilities.”
    I have also made a formal complaint to Standards at East Riding about the failure of the three Beverley town councillors who also sit on East Riding to make the necessary declarations of interest as required by the Code of Conduct.

  2. Common Sense has prevailed.Like most Labour policies this would just have been a black hole as far as money is concerned.There was NO public outcry regarding the building only the rehousing of the boxing club which is a different issue.We all know that costings of projects and financial prudence are not the Labour Parties strong point and any criticism of figures being published by other parties is simply laughable.

  3. Having read both the Pre and Post reports of this Council meeting on HU17 and the missives from Councillor Pinder on both sites it seems to me that the councillor is more concerned with attempting to “score points” against other councillors rather than looking at the realistic, and very long term, financial implications of such a project. Democracy appears to stretch only so far.

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