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Megaloan still an option even though Assembly Hall is a wreck

(July 19, 2010)
Warminster Councillors heard that the Assembly Hall building is almost a complete wreck inside and out - yet some are still contemplating putting the town in hock to rescue the little used building.
Former mayor Tony Nicklin was cagey about the total cost of the project and the identity of lowest tender which he said had come in 'within budget'.
He revealed that the building, Warminster's own money pit, would suck in 35 per cent of the cost of the proposed megaloan on essential maintenance just to get its shell in a fit state to admit people.
If they don't spend the money then councillors could face surcharging if there is an accident - although the other option is to close it.
''Back in 1998 West Wiltshire District Council said it would cost 100,000 pounds to replace the heating and ventilation system,'' said cllr Nicklin.
''The drains are in a terrible state and could collapse and the 40 year old concrete tiles on the roof have lasted 15 years longer than expected.
''The roof design lacks bracing - a terrible structural omission.''
The building was formerly the property of the district council which cleverly duped Warminster Town Council into taking it on in 2002 in order to get the Conservative administration out of a financial hole in Trowbridge.
Councillors will decide whether to carry on with their hair-brained scheme on 16 August when they intend to hold a special meeting devoted to this matter.
''Quite clearly there are some entrenched positions but anyone with any sense can see that it is not reasonable for a small parish authority such as Warminster Town Council to take on this extraordinary liability, especially in the current economic circumstances,'' said former county councillor Steve Dancey.
''What will they come up with next asbestos? - I wouldn't be at all surprised.
''The building needs to close and then we should try to find a way of spreading the cost of this facility by involving other agencies that might want to use it.
''It isn't fair to lumber people who are yet to be born with the potential liability of this unloved and frankly horrible structure.
''In the parish poll an unprecedent 92 per cent were against the plans to spend this money and the town councillors, should listen to the townsfolk - many of whom have been living here a lot longer than most of them.''
Another former councillor says -
"Over the last decade town councillors have forgotten that a community will happily support our favourite places like the town park even if it needs a so called subsidy," adds former councillor Paul Macdonald.
"Nobody quibbles about that. Nobody expects an exorbitant entrance fee to visit the park. The problem about the 'Ass hall' as it is described to me is that it costs too much to rent."
"If that building is not 'fit for purpose' then after more than two years of council meetings about it they have a new starting point," says Paul. " It has appeal to others."
"They have left it too late to carry on with this approach. Ask the users who want to stay if they are happy to continue for the time being and talk to the people who have expressed an interest.
"The local churches and our increasingly respected Warminster Community Radio station which I support as well as the community hub suggestion from a WC cabinet member should provide the impetus.
"Scrap the megaloan. Accept that time has moved on to a new approach.
"Our town parish poll was justified."

Hear Tony Nicklin tell a public meeting that they will abide by the result of the parish poll. CLICK HERE

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