LETTER: Former Co-op - Is this the right path?

Having been unable to attend the council meeting regarding the above I was interested to see your summary of the discussions in the Rasen Mail.

I have attached a scan of the article with some points of interest marked.

I was under the impression that the town council’s reasons for purchasing the Co-op building were based on concerns that the building was vermin infested and falling into disrepair and no other private company was prepared to buy the building due to the trading constraints imposed by the owners and the colossal amount of funds required to repair and bring it up to current standards.

The town council are justifying the use of public, not their own, personal monies to buy the building because of the above reasons.

Therefore I cannot see how they can subsequently claim that they need to rush through the purchase due to “ a rival Bidder” possibly coming on the scene.

If a rival bidder wants to buy the building at a commercial price, given the poor state of the building, and spend a lot of money restoring it then WHY are the town council so keen on buying it at an inflated price- using public money?

Why not let the private sector/market sort it out and not involve the council using vast sums of public money- what is the difference to the public if the building is restored by the private sector?

I am also concerned they stated that 90% of the 100 people who attended the meeting were in favour of the purchase by the council gives them the go ahead- surely a project this size should be put to a vote by the other 3,000 plus people who weren’t at the meeting??

I am aware that at least one resident of Caistor has asked for projected break -even dates and basic financial plans which the council cannot or will not release to the public even though it is public money that is being spent- what happened to democracy? Do the town council have a hidden agenda ?

Your article states that “Mayor Steve Millson reminded councillors that the income from leasing the two residential flats would help fund the rest of the project”- I would point out that there is currently a surplus of residential flats in Caistor and even when let the income would be around £400 per flat per month pre tax/expenses - that is not going to make much of an impact on a building project of this scale.

In contrast a phone call to the Public Works Loan board reveals that £325,000 for 50 years results in a total repayment by the residents of Caistor of £837,000 with an annual payment of £16,744 for the next 50 years.-That’s a lot of Mars Bars.

The proposed stated increase in the precept is £16,700 which covers the loan only for the next 50 years.

Any building works will have to be funded out of grants or an increase in the precept over the coming years-shouldn’t the town council reveal these potential grants(other than the £100k from Co-op) as part of their business plan ?- after all it is public money from the people of Caistor

I have no doubt that a private limited company will be formed to protect the directors (councillors) from responsibility- which will not have to reveal detailed accounts, as in the case of the Heritage Centre - if it is to be publicly owned then detailed accounts should be made available to the shareholders, i.e. the public so that they can see where their money is being spent.

Jonathan Holt