Concerns over lack of hard figures in plans

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Caistor Town Councillors have agreed to push forward with plans to purchase the former Lincolnshire Co-op store with the aid of a £325,000 loan.

But some councillors are still seeking assurances the scheme to create a sustainable community facility in the Market Place will work, especially after members heard that it was highly unlikely they would be able to attract additional health facilities like a dentist or opticians.

Coun John Burns-Salmond said that it was a lot of money for the council, and therefore the council taxpayer, to commit to when a full feasibility study into whether the buildings renovation and future management was viable had not been carried out.

He added: “I do have some reservations about costings, they are very vague still.

“I’m fully in support of the project and would like to see it happen as soon as possible but I’m slightly worried about what we are getting ourselves into.

“I would be worried about putting such a lot of money into a building I have not fully looked into, what will the cost of management be? What income will it make?

“I’m worried we are galloping along faster than we should be.”

West Lindsey District Council is to consider a grant application this month which could see Caistor Town Council awarded £20,000 to pay for such a feasibility study.

But councillors decided to push ahead despite concerns as the building is still on for sale and could be purchased by a rival bidder if members did not move quickly.

Mayor Steve Millson reassured members that there would be a surveyors report done and some feasibility work had already been done on the building.

He reminded councillors that the renovation would create two residential flats as well as office space and small start-up business units and the income from leasing the flats would help fund the rest of the project.

And clerk Helen Pitman said that the council was still only agreeing to going ahead with the £325,000 Public Works Loan, to be repaid over 50 years, in principal, that there was still a lot of work to do and there was still the possibility it would be refused.

At a public meeting last month, attended by more than 100 residents, the project earned 90 per cent approval.

The purchase of the building, via the loan would mean increasing the council’s precept from £77,883 to £94,583, an extra 34p per week for Band D properties.

Lincolnshire Co-op has also pledged £100,000 to help kick start the project.

Councillors voted to press ahead with the development, 10 voting in favour of it with one abstention.