Control tower project hit by fresh delays
Council admits it may not open until spring 2017 as it applies for £150,000 loan
GREENHAM Parish Council has admitted it may now struggle to have the control tower project completed before spring 2017.
Work to transform the Cold War tower into a visitor centre and café at Greenham Common was originally meant to be finished by June 2016.
However, a series of setbacks and spiralling costs have seen that date pushed back by almost a year and led to the chairman of the council offering his resignation.
The council needs to borrow £150,000 in order to complete the project, which it estimates will now cost £853,000. If that is unsuccessful, the work may have to be postponed yet again. And it is Greenham taxpayers that are bearing the brunt of the delays.
In January, the parish council agreed to increase the precept – the amount it collects in council tax – by three per cent in order to cover future costs of the refurbishing the control tower.
If the council is successful in borrowing the £150,000, it will repay it over a 25-year period.
The initial decision to borrow the money was taken by councillors at a meeting in March, but the National Association of Local Councils advised that an open meeting should be held to address any public concerns.
That meeting was held this month, where control tower project chairman Steve Westbrook said: “The key issue is that we do not have sufficient funds to complete the project.”
The project was first delayed when it was revealed that Greenham parish council did not have enough money to fund essential repairs to a leaking roof that was causing significant damage.
Mr Westbrook said that issue has now been resolved and added: “We are making a commitment to 25 years to make these repayments.
“It is a big decision but we would have to mothball the project if we don’t apply.
“We do need this additional funding and there is no Plan B.”
Councillors unanimously voted in favour of applying for the loan.