This week the council has been gold plating the Town Hall steps

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This week the council has been gold plating the Town Hall steps, well covering them with lovely and expensive York stone, as part of its £2 million project to gold plate the entire Town Hall and create a beautiful new civic quarter where no-one except council officers goes. All this has been done by officer and cabinet decision without any consultation or public debate. Whilst the council keeps repeating its £85 million savings line it can magically find £2 million to create a lovely new civic quarter whilst the rest of us have to put up with wobbly brick pavements and chewing gum in the parts of the town centre where regular people do their shopping.

The total bill is £2.133 million made up of:

- Town Hall refurbishment £750K
- Town Hall windows £143K
- Pavement in front of Town Hall £800K
- Longfield Avenue closure £440K

(See answers to questions 12, 13 and 14 in December.)

The council likes to make out that the Town Hall works were some kind of vital health and safety emergency effort and then you hear that the refurbishment is inline for running for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) London region Building Conservation 2013 Award. According to the Gazette:

But pollution and inappropriate past repair from the 1950s meant some of the facade’s architectural features had started to deteriorate.

The latest works sought to repair this damage while retaining many of the original building materials.

Stained glass windows were also restored and historical paint analysis was used to make sure that the redecoration was authentic. If the project wins, it will be automatically entered into the competition to win the RICS Project of the Year 2013.

A specially inscribed paving stone, dedicating the restorations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, will be permanently placed outside the town hall on May 13.

The council might confirm whether the Town Hall project is a piece of vital health and safety work or a project fit for a queen? It wants to have its cake and eat it on this one. It looks more like the latter to me.

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3 Responses to This week the council has been gold plating the Town Hall steps

  1. Eric Leach says:

    Spending money like this is quite obscene, given that day centres are closing and benefits for the disabled are being cut. Replacing clearly quite serviceable paving stones outside the Town Hall with new ones at a cost of £800K was clearly nuts.

    Is it one wonders just a demonstration of power? In other words ‘we’ are going to do this whether you like it or not because ‘we’ have the power to do this.

    Or it is more to do with trying to sell off parts of the Town Hall as a hotel?

  2. Phil says:

    Eric,

    When we were in power the regeneration officers recommended that we push Section 106 funds towards repaving the town centre like Hammersmith which I think has been effective at uplifting that town centre. At the time we said whatever you do, make sure you do the Town Hall last, as it is much better than most of the town centre. As a result Bond Street was the first part of the town centre to be improved. The Labour councillors don’t seem to be of the same opinion. They have simply allowed the officers to feather their own nest in this quite inappropriate way.

    I also think officers have been some what duplicitous in pushing through the Town Hall renovation on the basis that it was a health & safety driven project. The end result looks fit for a queen (and even has the tablet to prove it). Their logic seems to be that once you get past the health & safety test you can gold plate the project.

  3. Ben Oster says:

    Eric Leach is exactly right about this. Each high quality natural paving stone laid in place probably represents a week bed-bound in a room without human contact in terms of cost for someone. Do not the so-called working men that constitute the Labour party in Ealing have a) No compassion for those less fortunate than themselves, and b) Have no concept of their own mortality: i.e. some of them themselves, their friends, and their relatives will probably need some of the services that they are cutting, especially as they themselves age?

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