Gillingham Town Council is to launch a consulation with residents over whether the town should buy freehold premises to site its workshop.
To pay for the property the council would use part of its reserved funds and raise the rest through a Public Works Loan.
In a statement the council said:
‘Gillingham Town Council is responsible for many assets, the Town Hall, Community Office, Public Conveniences, Town Bridge Office, Chapel, former Mortuary building, many public open spaces and play areas, Hardings Park, Cemetery, Garden of Remembrance, allotments, Wesley Gardens as well as many floral displays throughout the town. Full details can be viewed on the Council’s website (https://gillinghamdorset-tc.gov.uk).
‘Gillingham currently has a population of just over 12,000 and with this number increasing significantly in the coming years particularly with the advent of the Southern Extension to the town, adding at least another 1,800 homes. Along with this increase in population, included developments will add further open spaces, play areas and community assets which may become the management responsibility of the Council.
‘This continuing development of Gillingham will increase demands on the services provided by the Council and there may be a need to expand the workforce and additional equipment will be required. The existing workshops and storage areas are spread over many different sites and these have become impractical, unmanageable, unviable and more expensive to manage.
‘The Council currently rents two workshops and has a number of storage sites situated throughout Gillingham. The workshops are already proving too small and the storage sites are inappropriate for the equipment which needs to be stored. Further space is already required regardless of the forthcoming expansion of the town.
‘The Council has an opportunity to acquire freehold premises which would be large enough to cater for all of the Council’s current and future needs. The advantages of new premises are numerous and are typically:
- Ability to provide an increased secure location for all equipment
- Centralised storage of all equipment
- An increase in workshop size to accommodate the growing workload
- Capability to provide expansion of facilities
- Minimising cost and greater efficiency due to centralisation
‘Given the need to acquire further space, acquisition of the freehold premises makes logistical and economic sense. This acquisition naturally comes at a cost which is currently being determined since this proposed project is in its infancy and the Council has only recently begun its investigations.
‘In order to purchase the freehold property, the Council would utilise part of its reserved funds and raise the balance with the assistance of a Public Works Loan. The aim of the Council is to make financial arrangements so that the loan repayments would be the same or less than the cost of the rent payable on the existing premises. The outgoings on the new premises will be higher than on the existing premises due to the building and site being larger.
‘However if the proposed purchase does not proceed the council would need to rent further premises with the attendant additional cost of rent and outgoings which will exceed the outgoings for the new premises. The proposed purchase will therefore represent a saving in the long run for the residents of Gillingham.
‘The Council will in due course publish more detailed information when investigations have provided more detailed information.
‘The Council wishes to fully engage with the residents of Gillingham throughout this process until a final decision is made and take into account the views of its residents. A formal survey will be conducted in due course but in the meantime the Council welcomes any queries, suggestions or otherwise; please contact your local councillor or the Council by email or writing to:
Gillingham Town Council
The Town Hall
‘The Council believes that this is an opportunity for Gillingham to ensure the services it delivers can be successfully, more efficiently and more economically delivered in the long term and for the benefit of its residents.’