Brentwood Town Hall to be rebuilt

THE FUTURE of Brentwood Town Hall came one step closer to being resolved at a heated special council meeting last night.

The iconic building will remain on the same site in Ingrave Road, but will be either fully or partially re-built.

A decision of 25 in favour and nine against saw the council opt to either develop a brand new civic centre on the site of the northern carpark, or to refurbish the north wing of the building and build new offices on the same car park.

Suggestions by the Liberal Democrat group to gather more information on the cost of refurbishing the existing building were voted down.

In summing up the meeting, council leader Cllr Louise McKinlay (Conservative) spoke of how important civic pride is but said: “We know how important it is to maintain and improve services like weekly street collections, we have to get the balance right.”

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After the meeting she said: “We will be running a building, which is smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient, allowing for taxpayers’ money to put in to front line services.”

The two options were wittled down from a choice of 12, which included moving to Coptfold House, New Road, and combining refurbishment with residential units.

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The importance of the decision was repeteadly raised during the meeting. Cllr Chris Hossack (Conservative) said: “The decision we make now is for the next 50 years. Most of us in the room, with the exception of (Cllr) William Lloyd, will not be around in 50 years time.”

As the final vote neared, councillors opposed to the motion spoke in starker terms. Cllr Barry Aspinell (LibDem) said: “We do not want this. Is that direct enough? 75 per cent of our residents don’t either.”

After the meeting LibDem leader Cllr David Kendall said: “They blew a great opportunity tonight to seriously consider the refurbishment option in much more detail. Whilst on the night we may have lost the vote, we certainly won the argument and I believe in time the Conservatives will come to deeply regret this decision.”

The final decision on the building will be made at a full council meeting when further designs and tender details will be available.

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