WTC taking on Town Hall, Car Park and Toilets

I have had my doubts about the negotiation for this being kept quiet, but here it is.

Reference No: BUS-011-14         

Title: Disposal of Wivenhoe Town Hall, Car Park and Toilets   

Decision: To approve the disposal of Wivenhoe Town Hall ,toilets and car park on Wivenhoe High Street to Wivenhoe Town Council.

To view the decision on the web site, please click on this link:

http://colchester.cmis.uk.com/colchester/Decisions/tabid/67/ctl/ViewCMIS_DecisionDetails/mid/391/Id/369/Default.aspx


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Comments

  • Do we know what this will cost?  Will it add to the Wivenhoe precept?
  • The costs will be no more than £10,000, probably much less.  I am strongly in favour of keeping the toilets open for residents and of course to encourage visitors.

    Also, I have been reminded that WTC put out a press release in December, so not so secret after all.

    PRESS RELEASE ON WIVENHOE'S PUBLIC CONVENIENCES  

    16 December 2014

    As long ago as December 2013 Wivenhoe Town Council considered an approach from Colchester Borough Council concerning the future of the public toilets in the High Street Car park at Wivenhoe. Briefly, Colchester wanted to transfer the asset to Wivenhoe Town Council. Within this communication, the Town Council learned that the approximate annual costs for the facility are £10,000.

    Whilst accepting that such a transfer would add to the assets of Wivenhoe Town Council, the increase in costs without any other balancing benefit was unacceptable to Councillors. 

    Wivenhoe Town Council aspires to creating a Civic Centre in the area of the current Council Offices. This desire is supported by the fact that WTC owns the two adjoining plots that are currently occupied by the former Police Houses and The William Loveless Hall. By acquiring the Council Offices from Colchester Borough Council and therefore completing the ownership of the combined sites, this vision becomes closer to reality.

    Wivenhoe Town Council promptly responded to Colchester Borough Council putting forward the suggestion that taking on the Public Toilets should be considered only as part of a package which includes acquiring the Council Offices. This remains the stance of the Town Council and negotiations are still continuing. 

    NB: The Town Council Offices and yard originally belonged to the former Wivenhoe Urban District Council prior to 1974 and were procured by Colchester Borough Council as part of the Local Government Reorganisation Act of 1972. 

  • Two Motions put forward by Cllr Needham for the WTC meeting [Word] on 16 November:
    a) Wivenhoe Town Council urges Colchester Borough Council to expedite outstanding land ownership matters in relation to the transfer of the Public Car Park and Public Conveniences. This especially applies as Colchester Borough Council initiated such a transfer in 2013 and insisted on an early take up.

    b) Wivenhoe Town Council requires a legal commitment from Colchester Borough Council that scheduled works to the Public Conveniences in the High Street car park will be completed in a timely manner, irrespective of the state of transfer of ownership to Wivenhoe Town Council.
  • CBC officers agreed on September 14th that the works were scheduled to take place and WTC was informed by me the same day.
    I am chasing up a date for the works, as it seems too slow, but there is no suggestion that they wont take place notwithstanding the imminent transfer of ownership.  
    Regarding the legal transfer, this too seems to be too slow, but I am chasing up a date for exchange.
    I hope very much that I will have an update for the Council meeting this Monday.

    Even though this is in the public domain, I remain a little concerned that most of the public are not aware that WTC is buying up the civic offices and yard from CBC as part of this package.  Originally CBC said they would close the toilets if WTC did not take them over and that they would give the town council the car park.  It was then decided by WTC to insist that they be allowed to purchase the civic building at the same time, obviously this will have made the legal transfer slower, but it seems to be taking too long and I understand the frustration of WT Councillors.
  • The latest hold up was in 'estates', Mark Cory's portfolio. I have contacted estates directly and will also let Mark know.
  • News on the doing up of the toilets:
    The works has been put out to tender and can be realistically expected in February.  The good news is that it is not under dispute - it has been agreed and actioned.
  • Wasn't they done up a few years back?
  • They were, but now they are to be spruced up and lovely for their new ownership.

  • Must admit the exterior needs some TLC. The facias and soffit are rotten.
  • edited March 11
    The deal has now been completed for WTC to take on the ownership and management of the public toilets. The Town Council has managed to bargain into the negotiations buying the Town Council office back from CBC.

    More on the WTC site [can't permalink to a specific story.]
  • There are many residents who are very pleased that the Toilets have been purchased and will remain open for public use.  This is especially true of parents who use the play park with their children.

    Meanwhile, if you do see or have evidence of illegal or anti-social behaviour, do please call 101.

    Thanks.

    MikeNewton

  • I agree with you here Mike, the toilets are very handy for the play park.
  • I also agree with you Mike
  • I think the wider point has been missed here: WTC has managed to bargain into the management of the toilets buying back the Council offices. This is hugely significant. It gives the town the ownership of the strategic stretch covering the WL Hall, the police houses and now the TC Office. HUGE potential for the future.
  • The Town Council didn't want to manage the toilet block. If they said no then CBC would have closed it - and probably even demolished it.

    And so WTC turned the situation around and said OK, if we take it on then we will do it under our terms. We'll buy the Town Council offices back, thank you very much.

    The potential is in terms of what could be achieved on that mass of land. We're talking long term, but the goal is for some new form of community space, incorporating offices, social space, meeting rooms, leisure etc. Nothing concrete, but the vision is there.

    Well done WTC for having the foresight to buy up the police houses, and now the council office.
  • The WTC accounts for the financial year should be published ahead of the May Town Council meeting.
  • kstkst
    edited March 12
    Did the space used by Royal Mail transfer as well, as this must bring in an income as well ?
  • kst said:
    Did the space used by Royal Mail transfer as well, as this must bring in an income as well ?

    Yes it did, and yes it will bring in an income.

    Thanks.

    MikeNewton

  • edited March 12
    Jason said:
    The Town Council didn't want to manage the toilet block. If they said no then CBC would have closed it - and probably even demolished it.

    And so WTC turned the situation around and said OK, if we take it on then we will do it under our terms. We'll buy the Town Council offices back, thank you very much.

    The potential is in terms of what could be achieved on that mass of land. We're talking long term, but the goal is for some new form of community space, incorporating offices, social space, meeting rooms, leisure etc. Nothing concrete, but the vision is there.

    Well done WTC for having the foresight to buy up the police houses, and now the council office.
    Anglia Ruskin University did some work on a proposal for a Wivenhoe Civic Centre a few years back:
    http://www.platerclaiborne.com/angliaruskinfiles2011/SSPD Brief 2011.pdf

  • edited March 13
    I think this is excellent news. More spaces open to the community for a variety of different purposes can only be good for Wivenhoe (as are the public toilets - absolutely invaluable).

    It's not always possible to plan in advance what a space will be used for, or how it will be funded, until you sign on the dotted line. And there are ways of making these spaces financially sustainable. I think I can speak for Wivenhoe Creatives when I say that we'd be happy to pitch in to help with any thinking or planning, and I'm sure that's true for many of the very talented people in Wiv.
  • edited March 13
    Yes i've seen that Roger ... but a few years back? At least a decade. For example, It talks about whether the engine shed project might still be successful! ...

    How long ago since that fanciful ideal was abandoned?

    It's a good and interesting reference document, so thanks for posting.

    The Anglia Ruskin University designs were presented in May 2012, so nearly five years ago. The idea of the Wivenhoe Civic Centre is acknowledged as very much a long term goal by Wivenhoe Town Council. But getting ownership of the council offices through this latest move will certainly help their long term strategy.

    Some background information from former councillors is contained over on this thread:
    http://www.wivenhoeforum.co.uk/discussion/comment/5731/#Comment_5731
  • I think the assets gained far outweigh the liabilities. Great news.
  • kst said:
    I think the assets gained far outweigh the liabilities. Great news.
    I agree

    An appreciating asset for the town is a good thing.


  • sce_to_aux, WTC paid a lump sum for the WTC offices via a government loan, with very favorable rates. I do know the figure for that, but need to check if I can publish it, as up till now these figures have been confidential for obvious reasons. For now what I can tell you is – if you are thinking of a figure for the plot including the carpark offices and outbuildings in terms of residential value you need to at least half it, if not divide by 3. Previously WTC paid a pepper corn rent on the building but obviously maintenance was down to the Borough. However the current lease with the Royal Mail has also been transferred to us, so provides an income. I can't say if the rent matches the repayment of the loan because I don't have the figures at hand, but assuming we can retain a tenant, at some point in the future this rental income will have paid off the loan.

    The toilets are a different matter and the cost of running them will fall to the tax payer, although I believe we can provide them for less than 10k a year, or even get a little creative with the building and find an additional source of income from it. The maintenance of the carpark and toilets will fall to us but we have the in-house expertise so this will not be a massive expensive.

    Any income from the carpark will go to an external source, mainly because there are too many hoops to jump through to manage a carpark and this one doesn't have an income except via fines.

    As for the future of the whole site – the hall provides an income, as do the police houses (although it will be a few years before this income cancels out the cost of the loan to buy them. But the exciting part is we can start discussions now that we own the entire site about it's future; which Jason a Rodger have eluded to.  

    An important point is, we have to move to an asset based council if we want to continue providing the services we are currently used to. The Borough and the County are going to continue to get squeezed harder by cuts and pass those problem down the line to us. So as well as taking on the cost of taking over other expensive services, and a smaller grant we will be under pressure to keep the precept increases down. By you all and the government. The only way to do this is to generate money a different way.

  • Why do we not simply ask CBC to increase the net 0.50% they s generously allow us to retain to a more realistic figure in line with other communities?
  • Thanks Andrea for that very informative response. The rationale of changing the role of WTC and how it makes money by leveraging opportunities (using cheap government loans to create a portfolio that provides income) is very smart and forward thinking. It still narks me that council tax goes up but we get less each year in return, but WTC are making the best of it. Well done!

    As a thought, have WTC considered turning part of the council offices into a hot desk type office, where sole traders/small businesses can rent a desk/phone/wifi for short terms?
  • sce_to_aux I wrote it under my own name. It's not a 'corporate" PR response' I was simply trying to be helpful as an individual that knows something about it. I think to do due justice to all your questions it would be prudent to set up a meeting with WTC or write to them directly. The contact details are below. Obviously you will need to do that under your own name and not an alias.
    Wivenhoe Town Council
    Council Offices
    77, High Street
    Wivenhoe
    Colchester
    Essex
    CO7 9AB
    Tel: 01206 822864 Email: wivenhoe_council@btconnect.com 
  • Encouraging news, Andrea.  Don't let the naysayers get to you...   ;)
  • simple questions about the car park.........

    who owns the car park (WTC ?)

    Who maintains the car park (WTC ? Colchester ? ECC ? 3rd party ?)

    Who pays for the maintenance of the car park ?

    Does WTC contribute to the maintenance costs ?

    Who receives the income from the car park (WTC ?)

    Does the car park income receiver pay any money to WTC, if so how much ?

    How much does it cost to maintain the car park ?
  • Who wrote that statement and who (if anyone) signed it off on behalf of WTC, Andrea, please?

    I can spot a "corporate" PR response from about five miles way.

    And that is one of them.

    My questions still stand.

    Plus, as a result of what this statement says, more questions should be asked: was a thorough and comprehensive survey conducted before the Wm L Hall was bought by WTC?

    Also if WTC has taken on the maintenence of the car park, who is the company or organisation (CBC perhaps?) that is receiving any income from it? Hoops being too difficult to jump through, etc etc ...

    Plus how much money has been spent by WTC on insuring the Wm L Hall  (if it has been insured?)

    And of course you can say how much it cost to buy it - it's a done deal now, and voters have a right to know.



    I would like to add to what Andrea has already said.  It was her response done in her name (neither corporate nor alias)!

    I would like to know why your sudden focus on William Loveless Hall.  That was not part of the latest purchases, and is a major Wivenhoe facility available to Wivenhoe people to attend functions or to hire for their own functions.

    It is totally compliant with all legislation and is of course insured.  It makes a small surplus for the community, and is much appreciated by those who use it, whether they be the Community groups who hire it, or the people who attend functions there.

    If you have any further questions, you may address them to Wivenhoe Town Council, at the address which Andrea has provided.

    Thanks.

    MikeNewton

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