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
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.