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Lone Lib-Dem councillor blasts Assembly Hall plan

(January 21, 2010)
AFTER a former deputy mayor was the first to reveal the full financial consequences a town council could soon be at war with itself and the public.
The Warminster town councillor charged with accounting for its money made an outspoken attack on his colleagues backing Paul Macdonald who exposed the huge waste of public money about to be spent on the Assembly Rooms.
"We keep throwing money at a hall without knowing if it is what the town wants," Cllr. Paul Batchelor told
"It's right that the Council provide facilities such as a meeting venue and I accept that such a facility may well need to be subsidised.
"But it is now proposed to double the cost to the town without researching the market as to what facility is needed."
The town council are currently financially well off after being donated a home and a trust fund to draw on by Harold Dewey.
Dewey House is now not good enough for the current Tory members who have voted to borrow £800,000 and then pay a similar sum in interest over 25 years to move to the assembly Rooms (see hot topics this week).
"Currently the hall is subsidised around £60k per annum," reveals Cllr. Batchelor who chairs the finance and resources committee.
"In addition we are just about to loose our regular Sunday hirer which will only increase the losses that have to be subsidised.
"Now the majority of councillors want to commit the town to a further £68k per annum for the next 25 years not to buy a new asset (but) merely to renovate an existing building.
"And that's only if it comes in on budget, a rarity in the public sector!"
"I am pleased we have at least one councillor with the acumen to see the true picture," remarked Paul Macdonald after contacting the finance chief.
"He seems to be on the same wavelength as both Steve and myself at as he told us that he wanted them to 'compare this to the £5k we give to Christmas lights or £2k to the Carnival which the whole community enjoys'.
"If we are to have a civic centre lets build a new one, one that is fit for purpose and can meet the modern needs of the community," concluded Paul Batchelor.
"This is just the sort of proper debate that we need," agrees Paul Macdonald.


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