Haverhill Town Council met at the town’s art centre last night (Tuesday, September 3) following a meeting of the finance committee.
Among the items discussed were plans to turn the disused Corn Exchange in Withersfield Road into a heritage centre and an update on the progression of the former magistrates’ court in Camps Road by the town council to be used as a youth hub.
Suffolk County Councillor Tony Brown revealed his plans to convert the Corn Exchange into a heritage centre, including museum, gallery and café.
The town council voted to support his initiative to make it a community-based centre, which would take around three to five years to complete with the building costing between £170,000 and £250,000 to purchase and up to another £500,000 to refurbish.
Town clerk Will Austin informed councillors he now had the keys to the magistrates’ court site, which the town is looking to buy off Suffolk County Council and transform into a youth hub following their failure to secure the Burton Centre, which was bought by St Nicholas Hospice Care.
Town mayor Roger André said he is ‘very excited’ about realising the council’s three year ambition of providing a youth centre, which should be up and running by November ‘at the latest’.
Improving youth provision in Haverhill is a key objective of community umbrella group ONE Haverhill, and £80,000 of it’s £110,000 budget, administered by the town council, has already been spent.
Mr Austin allayed fears he is to move the town hall to the site, insisting at most three of the 35 staff will be based there and such suggestions should be ‘absolutely refuted’.
The Red Cross will not renew its lease on Bevan House in Camps Road, and the town council may use the building as part of a swap deal with the county council to secure the magistrates’ court.
Overall crime in Haverhill is down (compared to a three year average), although burglaries, drugs and sex crimes are all on the rise.
Deputy mayor and St Edmundsbury Councillor Maureen Byrne apologies for the Haverhill Area Working Party (HAWP), of which she is a member, failing to object to parts of the borough’s Vision 2031 document before it was too late.
Cllr Byrne also suggested the arts centre should look at securing a licence to hold weddings there as the venue looks to boost income by holding more wedding receptions.
Thomas Gutherie, who won the tug-o-war competition at the inaugural Summer Bash, was presented with his cheque for £100 by Cllr André, which he will now donate to the Elsworth Opportunity Group charity, which helps disabled children.
The Summer Bash itself raised around £4,000 for the various supported charities.
There were more gripes raised about street lights being off and the county council telling residents to complain to the police, who only have lights put back on if there is a crime problem in that area, not for health and safety reasons.
Cllr Byrne said: “It will take someone to be attacked or seriously hurt for they (the county council) to do something about it.”
The town council has around £1 million in reserve, but insisted that amount is necessary due to unexpected costs that can be incurred through buildings, especially with the council presently running the arts centre, Leiston Centre and soon old magistrates’ court.
The council has been running the community centre in the Clements estate since August 1, and expects bills and costs to soon start coming through.
So far the council has spent around a third of it’s annual budget, which mr Austin said is about right given they are a third of the way through the financial year.
Mr Austin said there will be 35 grit bin requests, with the bins costs £120 to buy and install each.
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