‘It’s not theirs to sell’: Criticism grows over council’s Beeston Town Hall plans

Criticism is mounting over Broxtowe Borough Council’s decision to consider selling Beeston Town Hall to save money.

The authority announced last month it needs to change how it runs the landmark because of financial pressures.

In a consultation running until January 15, it lists three options for the public: selling it to be converted into flats, demolishing it and selling it for housing, or keeping it and attempting to find new methods of funding.

The authority says it is considering the changes because it cannot afford to continue paying the £106,000 a year running costs of the hall, which houses the main council chamber.

Some residents and local campaigners have heavily criticised the council for even considering a sale, saying the consultation represents poor planning and the loss of the hall would harm Beeston’s growing economy and reputation for the arts.

Caroline Penn, vice chairman of Beeston and District Civic Society, is campaigning against any planned sale.

She said: “It was built by councillors for the people who represented the people, who had Beeston at their heart. For us it represents our civic and municipal history.”

Matt Turpin, who runs local magazine The Beestonian, said: “No-one put this in any manifesto during the last election. They (the council) have foisted it upon us and technically they don’t own it.

“This is owned by anyone who pays council tax in Broxtowe, it’s not theirs to sell.”

Beeston Town Hall was opened in 1938 by the then Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council. It became the civic headquarters of the newly formed Broxtowe Borough Council in 1974 and was extended at the rear in 1978.

It is currently used for the council’s meetings in two chambers and one committee meetings. There are also offices for the mayor, council leader and leader of the opposition, plus around 20 council staff.

Most Broxtowe Borough Council employees work in the main Council Offices
opposite the town hall, and the council says its meetings would be held here if the hall is sold off.

Matt Turpin of local magazine The Beestonian is among those opposing the plans.

In a statement the council said: “As the Council continues to face funding challenges, difficult decisions have to be made in order to ensure we can still provide frontline services for our residents.

“One proposal is to review some of our buildings which are not currently used to their maximum potential and as a result we are consulting residents on the future of Beeston Town Hall. The consultation runs until 15th January and aims to put residents in the council’s shoes by presenting the type of tough choices we have to make.

“Other options may be available and we are open to suggestions from residents. No decisions have been made yet as to the future of the building and this is why we are consulting.

“So far, over 575 people have filled in the consultation and we look forward to receiving more in the coming weeks. The results of the consultation will go to the Policy and Performance Committee on Tuesday 6th February where a decision about the future of the Town Hall will be made.”

People can take part in the consultation on the council’s website.

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