The Red Cross building in Haverhill could form part of the town council’s negotiations to buy the former magistrates’ court.
Both buildings are on Camps Road, and the charity has informed the council it will not be renewing its lease on Bevan House, opening up the opportunity for it to be used as part of a property swap as the town looks to buy the old court and police station off Suffolk County Council.
The town council seeks to convert the disused building into a youth hub, having lost out to St Nicholas Hospice Care in their bid to buy the Burton Centre for the same purpose.
Speaking at the finance committee meeting that preceded the Haverhill Town Council meeting at the arts centre on Tuesday (3), town clerk Will Austin said: “We’re currently looking at what to do with the property as we previously discussed it may form part of the discussions between ourselves and Suffolk County Council of the transfer to ourselves of the magistrates’ court site.”
In the subsequent town council meeting, mr Austin informed councillors he now has the keys to the property and aims for at least the youth hub element of it to be up and running by November ‘at the very latest’.
Providing better youth facilities is on the key aims of community umbrella group and pilot scheme ONE Haverhill, which the town council is a part of and administers the £110,000 youth budget of – of which around £80,000 has already been spent.
Town mayor Roger André said: “I’m not easily excited but I am excited by this as for three years we’ve been working towards something to benefit the youth of Haverhill and hopefully by November we can say that we’ve achieved something we set out to do three years ago.
“We recognised the enormous vacuum in terms of youth provision and this is a real step to solving that.”
Mr Austin was eager to dispel any notion that the town hall and its 35 staff may be decamped and moved to the Camps Road building, insisting there would be at most three staff based there.
“I’ve heard that I will move all 35 of our staff from here (Haverhill Arts Centre) to the magistrates’ court, yet this is absolutely not the case as far as the town council is concerned,” he said. “We said we would move perhaps three staff, but I’m not sure if we’ll even need that many. “We did say we would incorporate new uses into the old part of the police station and will have that discussion with the history group that are interested in making use of the space down there as an alternative to the limited space they have here (Haverhill Arts Centre) and that’s an idea we will discuss.
“The idea that the town council has crept in through the back door to turn the youth hub into a new town hall is to be absolutely refuted.
“The town council won’t determine what goes in the youth hub – young people will.
“I have my ideas about what I’d like to see in there as I’m a big kid, but it’s up to the youth to ensure they use it.”
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, September 5) Echo.