Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Selling the old town hall

There seems to me to be little point in Gateshead Council holding on to buildings and land it no longer uses or needs for another purpose. That is not a reason for selling off important local assets still in use, or which could have an important community use in the near future, as Labour are attempting to do with part of Chase Park in Whickham. Nevertheless, an asset such as the old Gateshead Town Hall needs a new owner to develop it into a positive asset to the local economy. By 2020/21, the Council will receive no money from the government to support the costs of local services. We therefore need to help businesses to become established in Gateshead and to grow, not just for the jobs and wealth they create, but for the business rates they will pay to the council once they are denationalised.

So it was good news last week that the old Town Hall is going on the market, along with some of the surrounding land. It is no longer needed by Gateshead Council and a sale will give us a capital receipt as well as lever in private investment in the area.

The old Town Hall stopped being the headquarters of Gateshead Council at the start of 1987, just months before I was first elected. Sadly, Labour chose to invite Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party, to officially open the new Civic Centre. It was a gesture that suggested Labour thought of the new building not as a public building belonging to the people, but rather as an extension to their own fiefdom. We are, of course, doing everything we can to disrupt that point of view.

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