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Thatcham's Priory to be sold off again

Political row over the future of the building reignites

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

Thatcham's Priory to be sold off

THATCHAM'S Priory looks set to be sold..... again. 

The Conservative-controlled council voted to sell the building, at a loss of around £600,000, last year. 

But just as the sale was nearing completion the town council is now recommending that a new buyer be found. 

The recommendation will go before a meeting of full council tomorrow night, with the Conservatives expected to vote on finding a new buyer. 

Ahead of the meeting, Lib Dem councillor Lee Dillon said that selling the Priory again meant that the Conservatives would be making the same mistake twice.

He said: “With West Berkshire Council looking to devolve more services to local councils this could have been considered and services like the library worked into a new business plan.

“It seems that the West Berkshire Tories want to give back services but at the town council they want to sell off any asset so we won’t have the space to take on additional services.”

In 2009 the Liberal Democrat run town council purchased the Priory for £400,000.

The Lib Dems wanted to hire out the building to community groups to generate revenue for the town council. This would be coupled with renting out the current offices in Brownsfield Road.

However, work only began before the elections in May last year. 

Town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham north) accused the Lib Dem’s of shortsightedness by buying the Priory in the midst of a recession.

“The Lib Dems continue to try and excuse their poor decision to buy the Priory in the first place,” he said.

“I am not aware of any services that would be helped by expensive to maintain meeting rooms.

“As a council we are committed to minimising the financial effects of the Priory and will consider all options open to us.”

For a report on the decision to sell the building again, see Thursday's Newbury Weekly News.

See next week's NWN for a report of tomorrow's meeting. 

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