Monday, 3 September 2018

Knowle relocation project: "Another local government HQ sale horror story" as Mid Devon District Council sells Crediton short

Last year, the Mid Devon District Council decided it should sell off Crediton Town Hall - to the highest bidder:

Not everyone was happy:
Decision to sell off Crediton council offices at full market value is questioned - Devon Live

And now it is being further challenged:
Residents in last ditch plea to Mid Devon halt Crediton town hall sale - Devon Live
Complaints over town hall sale to be investigated by chief executive - Devon Live 

As reported by the EDW:
Another local government HQ sale horror story | East Devon Watch

Here's the story from a week ago:

Sale of Crediton Town Hall "an affront to democracy" say campaigners

Alderman of Mid Devon David Nation joins the fight to save the hall from being sold

Lewis Clarke
23 AUG 2018

A photo of local group campaigning outside the Grade 2 listed council offices.

Fresh impetus has been given to a campaign in the Crediton area to stop Mid Devon District Council selling off the building which has been devoted to local government and serving the local community for over 150 years.

Built around 1850 by James Wentworth Buller, sometime MP for the area, whose descendants still live in their 17 century manor house on the edge of town, he sold it to the police for it to be used as a police station, with holding cells, and magistrates court in 1858. In 1972 it was sold to Crediton Urban District Council but transferred to Mid Devon District Council upon local government reorganisation in 1974. The former magistrates court has been used as an impressive council chamber ever since.

David Nation, a Mid Devon Alderman: “Now three members of Mid Devon District Council Cabinet have decided to sell the building to the highest commercial bidder, despite the full council (42 members) having decided in February that they should sell the building to Crediton Town Council at half the value, in the same way they sold the town hall to Tiverton Town Council (the major town in the district) a few years ago.

“In 1974 there were 17 District Council staff employed at the building but they had been pulled out completely by 2016, retrenching in Tiverton some 14 miles away and pretty much inaccessible to local people unless you have your own transport.

“So the presence of the Town Council in the Crediton building is the only practical link the local population has with local government for the town and over 25 parishes in the surrounding rural area. Apart from the Town Council, one of the neighbouring parish councils meets there, the building accommodates the offices of Citizens Advice and the local Community Transport group, and more than 20 local voluntary groups, use the facilities offered by the building. They are all being made homeless by this decision.

“Hundreds of local people have complained to the District Council about the proposed sale but the District Council appointed an estate agent and accepted an offer, subject to contract, almost two months ago.

“At this 11 hour a petition urging the Council to reverse the decision is gaining hundreds of signatures and several local residents have lodged formal complaints to the District Council about the undemocratic way in which they have handled the affair. In my letter of complaint I have to the Chief Executive Stephen Walford, I described the decision as an ‘affront to democracy’ and accuses the Council of maladministration.”

Speaking at a separate meeting, Councillor Ray Stanley of Mid Devon District Council said they had received an offer of twice the size of that which had been offered by Crediton Town Council within the private sector.

Sale of Crediton Town Hall "an affront to democracy" say campaigners - Devon Live

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