Safira Ali, Senior reporter
Thursday, January 17, 2013
»“I fear for the future of the town hall.” That was the reaction from one councillor after the chairman of the Town Hall Delivery Group was removed from his post.
Cllr Russell Quirk chaired the group for 18 months and worked with three other councillors – Philip Baker, David Kendall and Mike Le-Surf.
The group was set up after the town hall was saved from development, and has been working towards trying to deliver a mixed use by the council, community groups and serviced office space for local small businesses.
He and Cllr Baker both left Brentwood Conservative group last month with William Lloyd and Nigel Clarke. They are now independent Conservatives. They cited a lack of leadership by the council’s administration as the reason for their decision.
This week Cllrs Quirk and Baker were both removed from the Town Hall Delivery Group by council leader Cllr Louise McKinlay.
Cllr Quirk said: “We have sat for hours, not just at each formal fortnightly meeting, but at numerous other meetings that have involved countless prospective commercial partners.”
Lib Dem leader Cllr Kendall, who has served on the group, said: “With political differences put aside, the group had worked well together to save the town hall and made significant progress in moving the project forward.
“We have now reached a critical stage in the process and it would have made sense to have kept Cllrs Quirk and Baker as a part of the group and for Cllr McKinlay to take a lead in guiding the project to its conclusion.
“I fear for the future of the Town Hall if we lose the passion, expertise and knowledge that Cllrs Quirk and Baker bought to the table on this issue.”
Cllr McKinlay said: “It is necessary that the chairman of this key working group is a member of the administration. The meeting was postponed as the independent report is not yet back.”
She said she will announce the new chairman and members at the next meeting.