Council is challenged
THE fight to save the Corn Exchange in St Ives could take another twist after campaigners were given the right to challenge a town council decision. The group, which is fighting to retain the building for public use, has been granted judicial review of a
THE fight to save the Corn Exchange in St Ives could take another twist after campaigners were given the right to challenge a town council decision.
The group, which is fighting to retain the building for public use, has been granted judicial review of a town council decision to reject its plans to save it.
But Action Corn Exchange says that it may not take up the option to challenge the decision as a local businessman has stepped in to help save and restore the building.
The Corn Exchange, which dates from the 19th century, closed in 2001 due to structural concerns.
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Last year, St Ives Town Council mooted the idea of selling the building to the highest bidder, prompting the formation of Action Corn Exchange.
The group put forward a proposal to restore the building in May 2007, but it was turned down by town councillors, claiming the plan's finances did not add up.
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However, a High Court judge has now ruled that this decision can be re-examined by judicial review. While this does not necessarily mean that the decision was flawed, the judge accepted that ACE's complaint merits a hearing.
The group, however, hopes sufficient progress will be made at the town council's meeting next January to make further involvement of the High Court unnecessary, but it is reserving its right to press ahead with a full hearing, said ACE co-chairman Nick Dibben.
Mike Purchas, who owns the Golden Lion in St Ives as well as having other business interests around the country, is currently preparing a restoration plan for the Corn Exchange.
ACE is involved in this process, working with potential future users of the building and relaying their needs to Mr Purchas and the council. The group is not at present pressing the town council for the legal costs it has racked up so far. If the case were to go to a full hearing, the losing side would be likely to be liable for all costs of the case, including this month's preliminary hearing.
St Ives town clerk, Alison Melnyczuk told The Hunts Post: "The money spent on defending this action by ACE will lead to further depletion of funds set aside for the restoration of the Corn Exchange.
"These reserves have been accrued via the Council Tax payment from the people of St Ives over a number of years - expressly for the refurbishment.
"It is a travesty that they could now be depleted in this unproductive manner and particularly in light of the decision made by the council in September to consider a further proposal to bring the building back into use in an economically viable way.