Letter: Don’t flush cash away

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I READ in your paper recently that Hailsham Town Council is planning refurbishment or rebuilding of the Hailsham public conveniences incurring costs in the region of £131,000 (refurbishment) or £180,000 (rebuilding) and that once the work is completed the town council will enter a 10-year lease on the building with Wealden District Council.

This raises questions that the town council should consider before they rush to use up monies in the reserve account:

1. My understanding is that the Hailsham War Memorial Trust (of which all town councillors are trustees) owns the land on which these toilets stand and this was originally leased to Wealden District Council; why would the town council be leasing its own land back?

2. I also understand that Wealden DC will be able to take back the toilets once the lease is up. Why would the town council want to spend up to £180,000 to rebuild something that they will lose after 10 years?

3. The previous town council, under the Hailsham Independents, built up a reserve fund that was used to support the NIL increase in the Hailsham Town Council precept for the past three years and this is used to support various services such as grass cutting, PSCOs and all outside maintenance works. Does the town council plan to recoup the money they spend on the proposed work by increasing this precept?

4. Another article in your newspaper highlighted the fact that Wealden District Council are sitting on a sum in excess of £5 million from Section 106 monies paid by various developers as part of their planning applications for developments in the Wealden area including Hailsham. Some of our town councillors are also Wealden district councillors – why are they not seeking funds from this Section 106 pot of money for the redevelopment of these toilets or any other local needs?

Plans have been approved for a new supermarket in Hailsham – was any Section 106 money negotiated? If so this could be used to cover the cost of the work on the toilets? Once this work is approved let’s hope the contract will be put out to tender to Hailsham-based businesses.

John Hulbert, Deputy Leader – Hailsham Independents