Parish council considers cost-cutting move into town library (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Buckhurst Hill Parish Council considers move from Queens Road information centre into town library
A PARISH council is considering moving its headquarters into a library reading room in a bid to save tens of thousands of pounds.
Buckhurst Hill Parish Council is debating moving from its Queens Road information centre to the nearby town library next spring, in the hope of saving more than £35,000 a year.
The proposals come after surveyors appointed to examine the two other parish council-owned buildings - Roding Valley Hall in Station Way and the Woollard Centre in Loughton Way - proposed maintenance costs of more than £138,000 in 2013/14 alone.
The figure is more than nine times the £15,000 set aside for the buildings' maintenance in the 2012/13 budget.
Chairman Gavin Chambers said the move would mean users would benefit from Monday to Saturday opening at the library, which saw its hours slashed to just three days a week last year.
He said: "The council is at an early stage in this process and is interested in receiving views and ideas from local residents about the future of the parish office."
The information centre, which the council bought in 2001 using a public works loan, would be rented out or sold.
But Steven Neville, of the Buckhurst Hill Green Party, said more needed to be done to tackle deficits from the two halls - which last year lost the council £32,000 between them.
He said: "Moving the parish office to the library is, of itself, no bad thing.
"But the problem is that the other two buildings are also making losses.
"They shouldn't be saying the parish office is the only thing to worry about. It's not. They have really got to grapple with those two other buildings."
The council makes repayments of nearly £20,000 a year on a £350,000 loan it obtained to purchase the Woollard Centre, which does not expire until 2041.
Cllr Chambers added: "This is the down side. The previous administration has turned a blind eye to the financial problems for some time.
"It's just been ignored for years. You don't want to make a profit, but you do want to break even."
Cllr Chambers said the council could adopt a 'health and safety' approach to the maintenance, rather than forking out the full amount.
"The surveyor will give you the worst case scenario," he added.
"Roding Valley Hall's quite old, it needs a bit of a repair. It benefits the community."
He said a public consultation into the future of the two halls would be launched in early 2013, with possible outcomes including the closure of one or both or the creation of a new building.
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