|The Evening Telegraph, January, 1969, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Urban District Council
Rushden Hall to be Restored at a Cost of £36,000
The controversial Rushden Hall restoration scheme, which is going to cost about £13,000 more than originally estimated, was given the go-ahead by nine votes to six after a long and sometimes stormy debate at last night’s Rushden Urban Council meeting. All that remains now is for the Ministry of Housing to approve the accepted tender for the work of £31,590.
The total cost is going to be £36,500 which includes professional fees of £3,540, emergency work already carried out at a cost of £1,370 and the tender for the main restoration and repair work of £31,590.
The original estimate made in February 1967, was £23,456. But set against the total cost is £5,750 in grants and the fact that loan consent has already been approved for £18,750.
Mr. E. E. Newell, chairman of the council, said it was not only a question of restoration work, but also of repair. Repairs were going to cost £20,911 and improvements £15,599.
Assuming loan sanction over a thirty-year period, Mr. Newell said that to restore the building a 1¼d rate - £3,737 a year would be required. To cancel it would mean a capital loss of £11,300, which, based on loan charges over 30 years, equalled almost a ¾d rate.
“The difference between carrying on or cancelling is roughly a ½d rate and this is what we have got to ask ourselves,” he said.
Mr. Newell was chairman at the joint meeting of the Parks and Finance committees that recommended the project should go ahead.
The decision to carry on was seconded by Mr. Cyril Faulkner. However, he commented on the fact that the current estimates were shockingly offbeat with those made in 1967 and as yet they had received no explanation why this was so.
In view of the escalating increases he felt future estimates would have to be more on target.
In the present case they had to ask themselves what they would put in the hall’s place if they did bulldoze it down.
But bearing in mind the money they had already spent and grants that had been promised the considering factor was: “Can we afford not to go ahead?”
He asked if the present total sum mentioned would be the ultimate, or would it alter “when they start digging and delving?”
Opposing the scheme, Mr. R. D. Gilhooley, said the had not received a copy of a report Mr. Newell later apologised for this setting out comparative costs by the treasurer, Mr. M. T. Bond. However, he had estimated that it would cost about £4,000 a year.
“I notice in making the recommendation the committees say so with reluctance. If they do, it follows that they are doing something against their better judgment,” he said.
He realised that the hall had sentimental attachments and was in a nice setting, but looking at it from the point of view of cost he opposed the scheme.
“I ask, can we afford to saddle this town with a debt of £4,000 over the next 30 years? Future councils will start £4,000 in the red before being able to go on other important projects,” Mr. Gilhooley said. Mr. Newell pointed out that the cost would be £3,737 and not £4,000.
Mr. Gilhooley was supported by Mr. A. Goulsbra, who also opposed the scheme on the question of cost.
“I cannot see how we can spend so much money on the hall when we have other important things to be done,” he said.
Mrs. D. Shrive also felt the money could be spent on more important things.
Mr. A. Allebone said he took exception to Mr. Gilhooley’s inference that the recommendation had been made against the Parks and Finance committees’ better judgment. The reluctance was expressed at having to accept increased costs over what had originally been passed.
Mr. Gilhooley said he apologised after it had been pointed out to him, but he could only express the views as they appeared to him in the reports he had.
Mr. R. H. S. Greenwood, chairman of the Parks Committee, said he had been shocked at the increase in costs. But what they were talking about was a ½d rate. He felt they would be letting the people of Rushden down if they did not go ahead.
Once the work was completed he hoped those who had shouted loudest would be those who would seek to make sure the hall was used extensively.
Mr. H. W. Catlin refuted the suggestion that the cost of the hall would mean other important projects being left out, adding that he was sure the townspeople wanted the work to be done.
Mr. Newell said they had already committed themselves to £2,117 in loan charges and the difference between restoration and pulling the hall down was a gross £18,000.
This he felt was rather a small sum for the amount of work involved and the imposing building involved.
Having accepted the go-ahead, the council also decided to ask the Ministry of Housing if they approved the tender, to increase their grant towards the cost and for supplemental loan sanction for £12,000.
It was also decided that the parks committee should report back on any variations that could be made to reduce costs.
Housing Scheme ‘Misunderstood’
There has been a good deal of misunderstanding by a lot of people about a planning application to build houses on a site in Irchester Road, Rushden. This point was made by Mr. A. Allebone, chairman of the council’s Highways and Planning Committee.
There have been indications that individuals and Rushden Amenities Society would oppose any application which would reduce the amount of open space allocated in the town map.
Mr. Allebone said many people thought it was the whole of what was known as the mission field which was allocated for open space. This was not the case. Only part was designated in the town map as open space.
He added that they, as a committee, were not happy with the plan, particularly the position of the access road. This would cut through about three acres of open space.
“We feel it would be dangerous to have a road go through this area and we are passing it back to the county planning office with our comments,” he said.
The council accepted the committee’s observations, which included the fact that the planning officer should be told that the access road position should be revised so that the proposed open space was not divided.
The council decided to continue with outside help so that Fern Road, Alpine Road and Cresswell Road could be made up under private street work schemes.
Commenting on this, Mr. Allebone said people in Fern Road felt they had had a raw deal. Work on the road had to be deferred because of shortage of labour in the surveyor’s department.
“But we can go ahead with outside help and we feel that the people in Fern Road have been mucked about,” he added.