Town Council agrees to put Council Tax up to pay for Pine Grove

Update: The Minutes of the meeting can be downloaded here (Adobe .pdf file):

Extraordinary Crowborough Town Council Meeting on Thursday 5th February 2015


 

Yesterday evening (Thursday) Crowborough Town Council considered the business case of buying Wealden District Council’s former offices in Pine Grove in order to convert them into an Enterprise Centre. 

Councillors have agreed to:

  • Make an offer to buy Pine Grove from Wealden District Council and car parking (Lot 2 – see diagram) to create an Enterprise Centre
  • Carry-out an extensive consultation with residents of Crowborough
  • Apply for a loan of £2.65 million towards the purchase price and capital costs of converting the building – the repayments to initially be funded by an increase in Council Tax
  • Apply for grant funding towards the costs
  • Increase their portion of Council Tax by 18.06% in 2015/16 (16% for Pine Grove and 2% for other work) – equivalent of 6p a day on an average Band D property
Proposed Council Tax Increases

Proposed Council Tax Increases for average Band D property

Map showing the two lots for sale at Pine Grove

Map showing the two lots for sale at Pine Grove

Councillor George Moss, Town Councillor for the North Ward, has resigned on principle.  On Twitter he explained his reasons:

The actual price the Councillors have said they are willing to pay is commercially sensitive, so the public are not permitted to know the figure at this stage.   The bid will be submitted to Wealden District Council as soon as possible as time is pressing.  If the offer is accepted, the Town Council will arrange a mail-drop to residents to asking them for their opinion on the proposals.  The consultation will probably be in a couple of week’s time.  Public meetings will also be held so people can ask questions.

Unlike other authorities, Crowborough Town Council is able to increase their portion of Council Tax (precept) above 2% without having to get the approval of the electorate in a referendum.

If the project goes ahead, in the medium-term, the Council might be able to sell other assets (such as the old Hall on Park Road) to raise funds towards the project.  Once the units in the Enterprise Centre have been let to businesses, the facility will start to generate a profit.  Any surplus from the Enterprise Centre could then be used to pay the interest or replay the capital or to fund other projects in the town.

Click on the following link for the background to this story: Future of Pine Grove.

Next step is to get planning permission – this will be decided at a Planning Committee in Hailsham next Thursday (12th February).

What do you think? Add your comments below or say what you think on Facebook.  If you have any questions or queries you’d like the Council to answer, please ask.

8 comments on “Town Council agrees to put Council Tax up to pay for Pine Grove
  1. Shame the Councillors are not so secure enough in their convictions to put the 18% increase in their budget to a referendum. That would prove that the taxpayers of Crowborough support the proposal and silence the doubters

  2. This decision voted through yesterday evening is extremely flawed. As I understand it the purchase of the Wealden DC buildings is to establish a site for a “business’ hub” This is an outdated and totally inappropriate model for business development in the modern technological age. People work from home not from expensive offices paid for by the local community. The decision to go for yet another loan HAS to go to the community for informed debate. I can only applaud Councillor George Moss for his integrity and for taking a stand for informed debate on this complex issue. Having ever set foot inside the Communityfacility as a matter of principle but having to accept the initial 13.8% increase in the precept I would not be prepared to accept a further 18% increase to purchase a white elephant. It is time that our elected representatives accepted that they have been out manoeuvred by Wealden District Council and always have been.

  3. Disgaceful!…18%..They can’t even raise council tax nationally by a few percent to support the fire service, teachers and NHS in their current disputes . I think those issues are substantially more important than a building that will probably end up being empty like the rest of the businesses in Crowborough town that have tried to start up but not succeeded. I am sure the town council could fund it by over means if they really wanted the property.

  4. If this is such a sure-fire profit making scheme, commercial developers should be jumping over themselves to do it. Since when was this the business of the Council? The most annoying waste of money is that being spent on a ‘consultation’ for which the decision has already been made and the figures required to make an informed choice are secret.

  5. If/as this is a proposed commercial development why are the public expected to pay for it so that business people can then make more profit from that same public? Surely in business it is not expected that the public will both put up the money for business, then also put money into the profits? We are not shareholders!

Share Your Views