Haverhill Town Council appeals against Burton Centre decision

Haverhill Town Council is to appeal against Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) decision to reject its bid to take over the running of the Burton Centre.

Councillors unanimously voted to lodge the formal appeal during a meeting of the town council on Tuesday amid some scathing observations on how SCC made its decision.

St Nicholas Hospice Care’s application to turn the centre into a community hub, offering care and therapy to people in the town, was selected ahead of the town council’s bid, which would have included much-needed youth provision for the town.

SCC had told the council it failed to satisfy two of the main criteria laid down as part of its decision-making process; local support and financial sustainability.

Haverhill town clerk Will Austin, who submitted the bid on behalf of the town council, said: “I think the process not only doesn’t stack up on the issue of financial sustainability, It seems to be plainly absurd to say we are not financially sustainable as a statutory local authority.

“The local support fails to take into account the 14 local councillors who sat in this room and showed their support.

“If that’s not local support I don’t know what is.”

Cllr Clive Turner said: “I’m quite surprised. This seems to be reminiscent of the Virgin Rail bid inquiry, it seems to be following the same pattern.

“There seems to be rather a large number of similarities between the two. It’s just a fiasco. They do not seem to be applying the proper processes at all.”

Cllr Gary Stroud also expressed his ire, adding: “This looks like a stitch up whereby Suffolk County Council, or people within Suffolk County Council, are making decisions before they’ve got the facts in front of them and are ignoring the wishes of the people of Haverhill.”