Town Hall is on the move

Scarborough Town Hall sale
Scarborough Town Hall sale
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MORE than a century of civic history could come to an end as plans to sell off Scarborough’s historic Town Hall are confirmed.

Scarborough Council would receive £3 million to purchase an alternative site under a deal it is discussing.

The council has until the end of the month to decide whether to accept the offer.

The deal has been proposed by the Homes and Communities Agency, which replaced Yorkshire Forward and aims to promote economic regeneration, would receive an equity share in the planned redevelopment of the Futurist and Town Hall.

Jim Dillon, council chief executive, described the proposal as a one-off opportunity which was impossible to ignore.

He said: “Looking at our options for the future, staying where we are is by far the most expensive. We will save significant sums by moving to a new, more modern facility.

“While the exact terms of the joint venture agreement have not yet been finalised, we believe it will be a catalyst for major investment in the town centre and seafront which will result in significant regeneration.

“I believe this agreement not only represents good value for taxpayers, but will result in the accelerated redevelopment of the Town Hall and Futurist sites, bringing growth, new jobs and new expenditure into the town centre economy.”

In recent years, council chiefs have become concerned about the cost of maintaining the Town Hall and its aging infrastructure.

In a report to Scarborough Council’s cabinet next week, Mr Dillon and head of finance and asset management Nicholas Edwards will say the configuration of the Town Hall is not suited to modern working.

They argue that spiralling maintenance costs at the historic building, as well the need for a £1.7 million IT upgrade, mean the best option for public finances is to relocate the office accommodation to a new site elsewhere in Scarborough.

The local authority has vowed that a Customer First presence would remain in the town centre.

It has also claimed that an independent study has stated that moving the council’s 340 office workers out of the town centre would have “little quantitative material impact” on the town centre economy.

But Adrian Perry, chairman of Scarborough and District Civic Society, said he would “rue the day” that the local authority leaves the Town Hall.

“They’re taking the heart out of the town,” he said. “The reason it is in the centre is because all the communication and transport links lead there.

“This will make the bureaucracy of the town inaccessible to a lot of people.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s a privilege to have such a wonderful building we should be proud of it - not saying the heating costs too much or we don’t want to fix the roof.”

He added: “I think this is another example of something that would be rejected if put to a vote. I think the majority of people would say let’s stay in our wonderful Town Hall.

“A lot of people value the building and think it’s a tremendous civic asset. Let’s hope the councillors see some sense.”

The proposal will go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, before it is put to all members of the council next Friday.