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Cheers as Stourport Civic Centre saved
STOURPORT Civic Centre will be brought back into community use but taxpayers could see their rates rise as a result.
Cheers went up from the public gallery at Wyre Forest House on Tuesday as Stourport town councillors voted unanimously to continue with the project, which would see them run the site together with Worcestershire County Council and the Civic Group.
The town council would be responsible for its offices and hiring out business units but budget projections showed the authority could incur an annual loss of £12,290 as a result. That would see the town council’s precept for council taxpayers rise by £2 in 2014/15.
Councillors vowed to look for ways to reduce the loss, including raising rental rates on business units and finding extra budget savings.
Negotiations will also continue with a private company being hired to manage the units.
An emotional UK Independence Party councillor John Holden, the cross-party Stourport facilities project steering group chairman, said: “I am very grateful we have reached our destination.”
Labour councillor Vi Higgs added: “Everyone that has asked me wants to keep this open and I do not believe 3.8p per week on the precept will be turned down.”
Independent Community and Health Concern councillor Dixon Sheppard said: “The people of Stourport will never forgive us if we were to let the Civic Centre go.”
After the meeting, Civic Group chairman, John Caldwell, said it was a “great day” for the town.
He added: “It is a great feeling to see everybody is backing it. It just shows the hard work has paid off and long may it continue.”
The Civic Group, a charity, will be responsible for running the theatre hall.
The town council’s vote was the final “major hurdle” to clear after the county council gave the project its backing in July.
Services, such as the coroner’s court and town library, will be moved from Worcester Street to the civic centre building, which is due to undergo a £1.35 million refurbishment.
The decision is also good news for Wyre Forest District Council, which is still subsidising the upkeep costs of the building, despite moving out last year.
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