Plea for delay is rejected

A PROPOSED stay of execution for St Ives Corn Exchange was cut down by town councillors last week after they refused to delay plans to sell off the building. Campaigners wanted to delay the proceedings and allow time for the town council to reconsider its

A PROPOSED stay of execution for St Ives Corn Exchange was cut down by town councillors last week after they refused to delay plans to sell off the building.

Campaigners wanted to delay the proceedings and allow time for the town council to reconsider its decision, but at a meeting on Wednesday, their pleas were rejected.

Instead, the campaign group, Action Corn Exchange (ACE), which wanted to open the building for community use, was invited to join with the council and look at how the proceeds of the Corn Exchange sale could be spent.

Town clerk Alison Melnyczuk told The Hunts Post: "The council will continue with the disposal of the Corn Exchange building. That decision had been made.

"However, the council will seek dialogue with ACE, and any other interested parties, in regard to the proceeds of the sale."

Nick Dibben, co-chairman of ACE, said: "To be offered at least some involvement in the future of the building is something.

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"However, we remain unconvinced that an alternative site (for a new community building) will be any cheaper than restoring the Corn Exchange would be."

ACE also claims its campaign to keep the Corn Exchange has overwhelming support from the people of St Ives. It said 95 per cent of respondents who filled in and returned its Corn Exchange questionnaire were in favour of keeping the building as a community facility. In addition, ACE said more than 90 per cent the respondents said they were prepared to carry on paying a small levy on their Council Tax to fund the building.

The decision by the town council to sell the building could well isolate councillors from the majority of voters in the town.

The Hunts Post has received dozens of letters fighting for the future of the building and just one - from town mayor Cllr Deborah Reynolds - defending the sale.

At Wednesday's meeting the town council also made a move that could isolate itself from future voters.

A St Ives youth town councillor who was interested in making his views on the Corn Exchange known was told he would not be allowed to speak, or present a 120-signature petition, collected from his school.

While councillors wrangled for long periods over protocols regarding questions and minutes, the vice-chairman of St Ives Youth Town Council, Christopher Unwin, 15, was sitting at home, unable to ask a question he had prepared.

Christopher's father Jon Unwin, a former councillor who attended the meeting on behalf of his son, told The Hunts Post: "My son is in the vast minority of being a teenager interested in politics, yet was not allowed to speak at the meeting for reasons of protocol.

"He had collected more than 120 signatures in less than three hours at school, but I was not allowed to present the petition on his behalf, again for protocol reasons."

Mrs Melnyczuk said: "Chris wanted to present his petition on behalf of the Youth Town Council, but it was clear that he had collected the signatures himself so the council was unable to accept it.

"Because Chris is only 15, and therefore not an elector, he was not allowed to ask a question of the council, though his dad put his question for him.

"We are not being awkward but we wanted to do everything above board - we need to make sure we do everything by the book.

"Chris is welcome to put his petition on the agenda of the next Youth Town Council meeting.

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