We must not sell off Corn Exchange site’
THERE is much work still to be done to prevent the commercial disposal of the Corn Exchange building and site. However, we must take some time to correct inaccuracies in the new Mayor Ccouncillor Mrs Reynolds letter and her remarks in your article (The H
THERE is much work still to be done to prevent the commercial disposal of the Corn Exchange building and site. However, we must take some time to correct inaccuracies in the new Mayor Ccouncillor Mrs Reynolds' letter and her remarks in your article (The Hunts Post, May 16).
First, the fact that the council's agents referred to a 'theme pub and restaurant' as the most lucrative option for the Corn Exchange (working group minutes, May 17, 2006) demonstrated that they felt that they did not need to exclude this as an option.
Second, several councillors, now including Cllr Mrs Reynolds, have stated that the Action Corn Exchange (ACE) proposals "do not add up". We insist that our calculations absolutely do add up. The only thing missing is goodwill on the part of the council, recognising that its £1m budget could be augmented by local fundraising and grants available to a trust. If the council had maintained its policy, by the end of 2008/09 the council should have set aside in excess of £800,000 from Council Tax receipts.
We are absolutely confident that our business plan and user revenues would have passed the scrutiny of an independent auditor as required by the October 11 council resolution. In fact, our income figures were intentionally conservative and we were shocked when individual councillors chose to undermine without our knowledge the understanding we had reached with St Ivo School.
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Claims that the Corn Exchange would lead to financial ruin of the council are misleading. ACE predicted that the building would cover its cost. Allowing for the higher running costs claimed by the town council, the maximum subsidy would equate to less than £2 per household per year, a figure less than is currently being put aside for repair works.
Third, Cllr Mrs Reynolds says the decision was not an easy one. The easiest decision for the council would have been to accept in principle the ACE proposal of a development partnership, thereby also following the advice given to them on May 2 by their own project manager, Michael Haslam. Five councillors voted for this.
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In the Hunts Post article Cllr Mrs Reynolds is reported to have said that half the town's residents north of Houghton Road know nothing about the Corn Exchange. The truth is that of the 1,159 signatories in support of ACE 54.5 per cent live north of Houghton Road and St Audrey Lane.
Finally, Cllr Mrs Reynolds is reported to have said that the council has been turned down for grants in the past because St Ives has an abundance of community halls. From the information made available by the council to ACE, the council made only one application for a grant. Furthermore, in ACE's numerous encouraging discussions with grant funding agencies, the availability of other halls was not raised as an issue. The council must at some point recognise that the Parish Church Hall, the Methodist Church Hall and the Free Church in the town centre do not count as public community halls.
We are determined to persuade the council of the wisdom of restoring the Corn Exchange to serve this and future generations.
NICK DIBBEN and IAN DOBSON, Co-chairmen, Action Corn Exchange, Rookery Close, St Ives