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Hereford Town Hall Freehold Disposal to be Considered


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The freehold disposal of Hereford Town Hall is being discussed at a meeting set for August 6th

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It's not a simple 'yes or no question' because this is public money that needs to be spent!

There are huge maintenance costs to consider, many of the county's historical buildings require regular maintenance and the Hereford Town Hall needs at least £2.5M spending on it immediately just to bring it up to standard, but there is a lot more work required. This is mainly down to the lack of ongoing maintenance since back to the 1990's.

The reason for this consideration, from our understanding, is that the Town Hall could be sold to the Hereford City Council and or including a possible 3rd party (CIC) which will be discussed further at the meeting on August 6th 2021. A community interest company (CIC) is a special form of non-charitable limited company, which exists primarily to benefit a community or with a view to pursuing a social purpose, rather than to make a profit for shareholders. Therefore, access to finance – whether through provide donors, grants or community development finance – may lead a social enterprise to operate as a CIC rather than as a standard company. These funding options such as grants etc are available to CIC's but this source of funding would not be available to a Council. 

Councillor Gemma Davies, cabinet member for commissioning, procurement and assets, said that in setting this year’s budget, it was vital £11.2 million in savings was identified, including new approaches to managing council assets.

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“We are in discussions with Hereford City Council around the transfer of Hereford Town Hall to their ownership,”

she said.

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“The possibility of a community asset transfer has been explored, however, a receiving organisation has not been found to date, so the council is now also considering other options.

“We appreciate how much local people and visitors love the town hall. It is a beautiful, historic building, and we have not taken this decision lightly."

Hereford Town Hall was built in 1904 and is a Grade II Listed building.

In order to bring the Hereford Town Hall and other historical buildings across the county up to standard would most likely result in a increase in Council Tax, so the real question here is; 

'Would you prefer in increase in your Council Tax or for Herefordshire Council to consider these other options'?

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Nothing is beyond this bunch of charlatans

The Council say the building needs at least £2.5 million on it. Even if they gave it away to the City Council that would immediately burden them with these costs - which ultimately we as taxpayers would have to cover. So while the County Council may reduce their burden we still have to pay to cover their mismanagement and lack of proper maintenance.

Given these costs no wonder no one else has expressed an interest. What is its best economic use - flats?, restaurant,?, shops?, No it is as Municipal Offices with meeting rooms. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

JULY 21, 2021

A statement from Mayor of Hereford Paul Stevens regarding Hereford Town Hall;

“The City Council was abolished in 1998 when the new Herefordshire Council was formed. All assets of the City Council transferred to the new unitary council.

In 2000 the City Council was recreated as a Parish Council. The only assets that were returned were the allotments. The Town Hall could have been returned at that time but the new council decided not to do that. Since then the building has been owned and maintained by Herefordshire Council. They have had the opportunity to raise funds from renting parts of it out including our offices, Mayor’s Parlour, silver museum and tourist information centre, from weddings and other events.

The unitary council did suggest selling it back for £2m but this was not a reasonable offer and nothing came of it. That was around 2010. Since then there have been some works but nowhere near enough to keep the building in a reasonable condition. We discussed an arrangement whereby the City Council could take the building over providing the essential and most urgent repairs were done, but this was not acceptable to Herefordshire Council. At that time they would have cost about £1.8m for urgent work, with another £4.2m to find over three to five years. More recently we discussed the possibility of a third party forming a charitable trust who would have been able to bring in the essential external funding to enable the building to be kept for future generations and used as a centre of live arts as well as a civic building. That fell through because their trustees needed reassurance about the current and most urgent repair needs.

Setting up a charitable trust to replace them would take about a year and is the only way we can get external funding to try and restore the building. We are not prepared to take it on with huge outstanding repair liabilities that would fall to the City’s tax payers. We are prepared to work with Herefordshire Council, and anyone else who is willing to help with the project, to try and secure a future for the building.”

by Connor Powell

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19 minutes ago, megilleland said:

At that time they would have cost about £1.8m for urgent work, with another £4.2m to find over three to five years.

If these figures are accurate (and I am not doubting them), then for the freehold the building can only be worth £1. An owner who neglects a Listed building to this extent cannot expect to sell it for anything. 

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The City Council working with the County Council would be a first - they've been at each others throats for 21 years now. Only now, when it suits a political argument, are we hearing about muti-million pound repair costs. Are these even realistic? What are they for and how have they been arrived at? This Council has demonstrated beyond doubt that they are incapable of managing large (or any) construction projects, so why should we believe anything they say about this one? We saw how they managed a very minor repair to the Porch of the Town Hall - scaffolded for 2 years was it? The Council seem happy to throw millions at the Shire Hall yet not at the Town Hall - perhaps because the City Council are there? No, this is a public building for the City of Hereford, built with our money for us. It must not be sold.

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