Otley Town Council
Resolution on the Civic Centre and the Town Council’s future accommodation needs – statement from Cllr Ray Georgeson, Chair of the Town Council
The financial constraints and commitments of our present leased accommodation mean that we are not in a position to consider a move to any alternative accommodation between now and March 2023;
the Town Council will begin to review our future accommodation needs after the next Town Council elections in May 2019 in the run up to the end of the Orchard Gate lease in March 2023;
our desire remains for the former Civic Centre to be developed in a way which benefits our community, provided this does not compromise the Courthouse expansion plans, and encourage Leeds City Council to take account of this in their consultation and evaluation of the Expressions of Interest; to instruct the Chair of the Town Council to write to Leeds City Council informing them of the detail of this resolution.
The Town Council’s Policy and Resources Committee met on Monday 27th March 2017 and considered a Resolution on the Civic Centre and the Town Council’s future accommodation needs.
The Resolution approved unanimously by 18 Members present has two clear aims.
Firstly, it makes a simple statement of fact, that the Town Council is presently committed to a ten year, fixed-term lease with no break clause, on the Orchard Gate offices and meeting rooms. This is in force until March 2023 and the landlord has confirmed they have no interest in negotiating an early break. Breaking this lease early to return to the Civic Centre would cost Otley residents over £30,000/year for every year left on the lease. I do not believe this is acceptable to Council Tax payers.
Secondly, the Resolution reasserts the strong desire of the Town Council for Leeds City Council – the owners of the building – to prioritise uses for the Civic Centre that benefit the Otley community.
The Town Council has made it clear to all those who believe we should be returning the Town Council to the Civic and turning it into a ‘Town Hall’ that the present financial and contractual constraints mean this is not possible at the current time.
It is the duty and responsibility of the building’s owners – Leeds City Council – to listen to the Otley community and find a solution to the challenge of restoring this long-neglected building that benefits our community. The City Council have committed to work with the Town Council to take the detail of all the Expressions of Interest they have had in the building out to Otley residents in a consultation exercise in which everyone can have their say, based on the facts and options available. This will happen in the coming months and I will update you with a timetable as soon as this is agreed with Leeds.
At the instruction of the Members of the Town Council, I will again be communicating our strong views on the future of the Civic Centre to the decision makers at Leeds City Council.
Cllr Ray Georgeson, Chair of the Town Council
28th March 2017