Paying twice for the same town hall

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The Lewes District Council is seeking the views of council tax payers on a fairer way for dividing the costs related to the maintenance of public open spaces. If implemented, the average Band D council tax bill will increase by over £55 per

year for Lewes Town residents, with a rather smaller increase for those living in Newhaven.

All other taxpayers in the district will experience a decrease.

Councillor James Page, Leader of the District Council, is reported as saying: ‘This is about a fairer system so that people don’t pay twice for the same open space’.

If that is correct then no reasonable person could object to the change.

Councillor Page, however, might like to ponder on this.

In 1893, Lewes acquired a new, very fine Town Hall, paid for by the ratepayers in the town. Eighty years later, in 1974, as a result of government legislation which reorganised local government administration, ownership of the Town Hall passed to

the then newly created Lewes District Council.

The District Council resulted from the merger of the Borough of Lewes, the Urban Districts of Seaford and Newhaven, and the Rural District of Chailey.

Later still, about ten years ago, the district council sought to divest itself of the Lewes Town Hall, as it was seen as being too expensive to maintain. Following an approach to the Lewes Town Council, it was agreed that the town hall would be sold

to the Town Council and the deal was completed.

This means that Lewes residents are now, for the second time, paying for a Town Hall, which they originally purchased in the nineteenth century.

Councillor Page talks of ‘fairness’ but how fair is that?

A E Holmes