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TOWN HALL - some thoughts on what needs to happen now

(July 30, 2011)
Steve attended the town hall auction at Bristol Zoo where the auctioneer withdrew the lot with no bids at 100K. He reflects on the current position.

  IMMEDIATELY after no bids were made at the auction there was a feeling of anticlimax  but it should have been one of elation.
The fact that no person came forward to bid at the price suggests that nobody else is interested - and quite rightly so.
The Town Hall is a money pit and a political hot potato combined so any business reckless enough to take it on will get its fingers burnt and will end up losing money.
The only possible user and buyer of the building is the local community.  The community group will be able to run the building on a charitable basis, tapping into a multiplicity of funds and grants and harnessing the huge goodwill of the local community who we know will come forward and do considerable and difficult works for nothing or very little - approaches have already been made by Warminster people who are plumbers, electricians and roofers.
So far the town council has not come up with any support as a corporate body (though several individuals are known to have contributed) but the preservation trust would have been offered 5,000 pounds towards environmental health and safety work had cllr Tony Field's motion not been scuppered by confusion caused by cllr Andrew Davis. Hopefully councillors can consider this again.
With the events at Bristol Zoo in mind the trust needs to continue its fund-raising and negotiate further with the receivers - but others can and must engage this issue.
Most notably cllr Humphries who told us at the town council meeting called to discuss this matter that his department at Wiltshire Council was responsible for enforcing the environmental health legislation (pigeon problem) and that 'my officers' will be enforcing it with the new owner.
WHY NOT NOW? - or are receivers or banks exempt from the provisions of the law in this respect? - Not being a corporate lawyer I'm not sure whether it would be the receiver or the bank that will ultimately bear the cost but someone at County Hall should know and should get on the case quickly. Cllr Humphries should make sure they do.
 We need to make sure that the bank and receivers know that holding on to this building any longer will be an expensive and pointless exercise and that the only action is to hand it over to the community who rightfully own the property in any case.
In cold blood the value of that building is NIL and we would be doing the receivers a huge favour in taking it off their hands, but the value of the building to the community is inestimable.
At the town council meeting to discuss this issue the trust was supported by most in the public area although a couple of people opposed any financial support.
 Rather than dismiss these opponents as out of touch and unrepresentative (as they are) we should still listen to their views and seek ways of countering some of the points they raised as no doubt grand-funding bodies will ask similar questions and probe similar weak-spots.
Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom and much can be learned from listening to a critical friend - or even just a critic.
 Mr Bohanna, (one of the pair who spoke against) probably doesn't appreciate the strength of feeling about this matter felt by many in the town  - I'm sure he wouldn't be at all happy if his home town's hall in Wales was in such a state. Bearing in mind the generous  grants and settlements Welsh councils received during the 13 years of Labour Government this is most unlikely to be the case!

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