Great Coates Parish Council survey into village reading rooms 'step in right direction'
GREAT Coates Parish Council has agreed to pay for a survey of the village's former Reading Rooms to see if the building can be converted into a village hall.
As reported, the parish council has voted to press ahead with plans to build a new village hall on land between Station Road and Cooks Lane, called Pear Tree Paddock.
The decision has angered some residents who have objected to a £300,000 loan being taken out to fund the project, which will be repaid by increasing the precept.
They have proposed the renovation of the former Reading Rooms, on Station Road, instead, and this latest move is the strongest sign yet that the parish council is willing to consider it as an alternative.
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At last week's parish council meeting, councillors voted in favour of conducting a survey of the building, which is expected to cost about £500.
Parish clerk Kathy Nunn told councillors she had spoken to a building surveyor who had advised her that the building would require underpinning at the cost of at least £80,000.
She said the cost of the survey could be met by dipping into the £7,000 reserve allocated towards the village hall project.
Vice chairman Bob Emmerson said: "We don't know what we are dealing with until we have a survey.
"We need our own information. I propose we go ahead with the survey so we can make an informed decision as to whether it's a viable proposition."
However, at the same meeting councillors also voted to proceed with a loan application to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the Pear Tree Paddock project. Ms Nunn said she had been told the council would be given an answer "very quickly", which she estimated to be around two weeks.
After the meeting, Ray Lawrance, chairman of the Great Coates Residents Association (Grass), which has led the objections to the new village hall, described the decision to carry out a survey on the Reading Rooms as a "step in the right direction".
However, he was less pleased with the parish council's refusal to reimburse Grass the £10 hiring fee for the recent parish meeting, which was convened by the group to consider whether a vote of confidence on the parish council should take place.
As reported, the proposal was approved and a final decision on whether a poll will take place will be made by North East Lincolnshire, which is also considering a request by Grass for a community governance review, which could see the parish council abolished.
Mr Emmerson said: "The poll as far as I'm aware is a bit of a waste of time."
Councillor Kelvin Hall said: "The meeting was called just two days after we had held our annual parish meeting. I don't know why they couldn't have held it at the same time. I don't think we should be setting a precedent of paying for meetings if they are called so close after another one."