‘We would run Square better’
PETERSFIELD Town Council could buy back The Square as local government changes accelerate.
The Square was owned by Petersfield Urban District Council, but when it was dissolved the newly formed East Hampshire District Council took over the town centre market place.
Part of the urban council became Petersfield Town Council, which ever since then has been keen to regain The Square.
Town Mayor councillor Mary Vincent said: “At the time, the district quoted a huge sum, in excess of £100,000 for us to buy it back, but now with everything that’s happening to local government it could come back. And if we did own it, we would run it properly. For example a trade fair wouldn’t be booked for Remembrance Sunday as was done last year.”
As well as the recent Localism Bill encouraging councils to buy and run facilities like the market, thoughts that the district council may leave its Penns Place offices in Petersfield, add to the belief The Square could come home.
Cllr Vincent said: “If the district council moves out of the district, which in itself is a ridiculous proposition, then would they be able to run The Square from Havant?
“It’s an ideal time for the town council to take back ownership of The Square.”
The district council admits it is looking at the future of its Penns Place base, including selling it to developers, but is adamant if it sells it will open town centre offices to deal with front line services. And the district council’s restlessness is mirrored by Hampshire County Council, which is looking to sell its buildings in town, as are the police, who are also looking for a new home.
At a recent private meeting Hampshire County Council, district council and town council represenatives met to discuss the future of public service buildings and facilities in the town.
Clllr Vincent attended the meeting, but said she couldn’t discuss it publicly.
But it appears the only two public sector facilities not being considered as potential sale-able items on the open market are the Petersfield Town Council owned Festival Hall – and The Square.
Town council clerk Neil Hitch said: “Why would we leave the Festival Hall? It serves our needs.”
He added that the council had been quoted a figure some years ago to buy back The Square, but due to the Localism Act, and the changes happening in local government, perhaps that figure could be revisited.
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Wednesday 11 December 2013
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