Concerns over £200,000 hall bid in Lechlade
A CLOSED bid of around £200,000 has been made by Lechlade Town Council for a community resource that may not be needed.
With just three days to go before the October 11 deadline and less than a month spent discussing the idea, councillors agreed last week to bid for the town’s Methodist church and hall.
Although the centrally located church is no longer in use, the hall remains a hub for activities and events hosted by umbrella group Arts in Lechlade and other groups such as Scouts and fitness classes.
However, critics believe that the property will be an unnecessary burden on the town’s wallet because another town venue, Lechlade Pavilion Hall, is currently under-used.
A survey of around 90 community group representatives, carried out by a council working group, showed that people were keen and willing to use the Methodist church and hall at a rate that could potentially enable the facility to be self-sustaining.
But Cllr Sue Coakley criticised the survey for not giving respondents the chance to say whether they would use the Pavilion.
"These groups could fit into the existing facilities should they wish to do so," Cllr Coakley said.
Cllr Ian Smith said that not all residents were keen on using the Pavilion because it was "impersonal" and accommodated less people.
"We’ve got an elderly population now and they would like to keep the Methodist hall because it has some character and atmosphere," he said.
The majority of councillors voted in favour of proceeding with a bid and a price for the property was agreed in private by councillors after the meeting.
If the bid is accepted, the council will spend up to £1,000 on professional fees for a survey of the building. Extensive public consultation will be carried out before the council applies for a low-interest public works loan of around £200,000 and commits to the purchase.