Homes and Community Agency’s (HCA) offered Scarborough Borough Council £3m to form a joint venture and develop the Futurist and Town Hall sites in Scarborough. The HCA’s investment would be used to purchase a new site out of Scarborough town centre to accommodate council offices, in exchange for an equity share in any future development on the existing Town Hall and Futurist sites.
Senior members of the Conservative Scarborough Borough Council were asked to make recommendations about proposals to decamp from the town hall and move to Prospect House, based on a business park at Eastfield. But, after consultation with staff and the public, the leader of the council said they had to take into account more than just the financial benefits.
from the councils minutes
Cllr Fox (Conservative) responded and stated that the consultation had been very long and very important to bring the issue to the public domain. If the council had not explored the issue no one would have realised the passion people felt for the Town Hall. People had previously not understood the costs of staying in the Town hall. The consultation had brought those costs out and people had accepted that staying in the current location would bring additional costs and people had accepted this.When he had first looked at the issue he noted that he had perhaps considered it in the cold light of economics and purely bricks and mortar but he realised now that he had to consider the heart and soul. Now through consultation he had been strongly swayed by how the public saw the building and how it was the heart of the council which would have been lost if there had been a move to Prospect House.
Cllr Broadbent (Labour) stated that he could not believe that Cabinet would have taken the Civic amenity out of town. He was glad there had been a u-turn and stated that the Labour group was delighted with the extra consultation and that the Cabinet had decided to stay in the Town Hall. The Labour group had listened to the people and businesses and knew that this was where the Council should stay. The Town Hall would remain in Scarborough and be open for business as usual.
In a Press Release by Scarborough Labour Group
“We do not believe that moving the Council’s administration out of the Town Hall into Prospect House, a property more than 3 miles away would be in the best interests of the Borough and especially not in the best interests of the town of Scarborough”.
“We acknowledge that a small saving could be made – representing perhaps one third of one per cent of the Council’s budget, but this does not outweigh the loss of such an important function in the heart of Scarborough,” said Cllr Challen.”
“The Council has secured what amounts to an advance of £3 million to facilitate its early purchase of Prospect House in a complex deal into which the Council would itself inject a further £1.8 and so provide the JV with a net working capital of £1.8 million.
“It has not been explained however what the costs of redevelopment are, nor what the value of the remainder of the site beyond the Town Hall is.
“Without these details, nor any indication of whether a high quality development which includes a major tourist attraction will be built in a timely fashion, we believe that the present economic circumstances create a significant risk that no development will take place which is satisfactory for such an important site. Scarborough could be left with its own equivalent of a ‘Bradford Hole’ which would be much more serious for a town which relies on its attraction to tourists for so much of its economy. “Set against this we would see the town centre losing 300 well paid permanent jobs and the implications of that.”