A Letter from Nantwich

February 2011                                                                                                                                                                Acquisition of assets goes on (an update)

Is this local landmark on the way out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Civic Hall - a local venue since the 1950s. Is it about to disappear?

IT was enough to make any Dabber go weak at the knees. "Civic Hall to close?" the headline asked on the front page of the February 2 edition of the Nantwich Chronicle.

   There was no article on the front page, but a panel stated: "Some of Nantwich's crown jewels, including the Civic Hall, could be shut or sold off next year as Government cutbacks take their toll, town leaders have warned."    

    Well used to buildings disappearing from the local scene with the idea of yet more homes appearing in town, the local people could only wonder what would take the place of this 60-year-old building - assuming it would not be gutted and become the new of home of . . . whatever.

    But the article on Page 7 of the local newspaper proved to be a little less of a worry. There was a way out of the situation. It was all connected with the new (2009) Cheshire East Council who - faced with Government-imposed cuts aimed at solving the economic crisis - were looking for buildings they could off load, or hand over control of.

    Since Nantwich Town Council has gone on record as wishing to run Nantwich buildings things could be a lot better than the headline might have suggested.

                            

 

   The Market Hall is another building that Cheshire East Council would like to hand over control of. With this, there wouldn't be a big renovation bill as there was a  430,000 refurbishment in 2007, according to another article in the Chronicle.

   Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Cheshire East Council has The Gables "community facility" in Beam Street, public toilets, children's play areas and open spaces in mind as ways of saving money.

   With the best will in the world, the Town Council cannot run the buildings without money. This led Councillor John Lewis (Conservative group leader) to ask "Do the town's residents want to maintain these facilities?" Quote in the newspaper, he went on to ask: "And if they do want them, and they cost money to run, are people willing to pay for them?"

   Councillor Steve Hope, group leader of the Nantwich First councillors on the Town Council, is quoted as saying: "Unless Cheshire East Council changes its policies, facilities . . . are likely to be sold off or closed in April 2012."

   Of course, if the Town Council takes over the facilities the local rate precept - the part of the rates that goes to meet specifically Nantwich items - will need to be raised. Presumably there will be a 

 

matching cut in the part of the rates imposed by Cheshire East Council.

   The facilities will still need paying for and, hopefully, for the same amount on the rates, but it will be the Town Council rather than Cheshire East Council who will be seen as the "villain" of the situation.

  On the other hand, apart from the many events held at the Civic Hall throughout the year, the building is the home of the Nantwich Tourist Information Centre (a Cheshire East Council venture) and it is the council's local office where Nantwich people can pay their rates and deal with council employees face-to-face. Presumably Cheshire East Council will be paying rent to the Town Council.    

 

WHEN Nantwich became part of the Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council - predecessor to Cheshire East Council - the Civic Hall was the venue for many events that might be considered to be the Crewe local authority's responsibility.

   But clearly the hall was the biggest venue in the borough and the then new authority might consider itself lucky that Nantwich had had the foresight to build a sizeable venue more than half a century before.  

 

 

 

THE foundation stone for the Civic Hall was laid by the then Chairman of Nantwich Urban District Council, Councillor Albert E. Peake, on January 19, 1951.

 

    The hall was built to commemorate the soldiers who fought in - or did not return home from - the Second World War after the funds to pay for the building were raised locally.  

 

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