Community at heart of town council plan

By Richard Wright

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

 

Community at heart of town council plan

Salisbury Gardens, which the Isle of Wight Council wants to sell on the open market. Picture by Laura Holme.

EVERY Ventnor resident is to get the chance to support Salisbury Gardens being kept as a hub of community life.

The Isle of Wight Council wants to sell the building, used as the Coastal Visitor’s Centre, on the open market for more than £400,000, but the town council wants to lease it or buy it for much less than that, in the spirit of the Localism Act.

The town council is to send information to more than 3,500 households inviting residents’ support for its plan.

What the town council describes as a "unique consultation programme" was launched at a meeting of more than 80 representatives of the town’s voluntary sector tonight (Wednesday).

The town council said it was determined every resident should have a say in a campaign to keep the building as a centre for the town’s services, along with "attractive and resourced spaces for business start-ups."

The town council has nominated the building for inclusion in the authority’s list of assets of community value.

It has highlighted that the building has been a feature of town life for 140 years and they have a clear and costed business plan for it to make a major contribution to the town’s economic regeneration.

Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr David Pugh previously ruled-out gifting Salisbury Gardens to the town council, but has promised to work with it "to find suitable premises to realise its aspirations."

But Ventnor mayor Steve Stubbings said after the meeting: "We feel there is a huge danger that the Isle of Wight Council will sell off its buildings and there will be nothing left for communities in the future.

"We are urging it to take notice of public opinion and take into account not just the cash value of its assets but the wider value to the community."

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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