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Councillors clash over £250k handyman work shop in Camborne

By WBKatri  |  Posted: June 12, 2013

Comments (5)

PAST and present Camborne town councillors have clashed over plans to spend about £250,000 on a new handyman workshop – in Redruth.

The town council is expected to decide tomorrow night if it will buy a 3,500sq ft storage unit at Barncoose Industrial Estate.

But the proposal will be considered behind closed doors because of commercial sensitivities, the council said.

Some former councillors believe the matter should be debated in an open and transparent manner.

Former Cornwall and Camborne councillor Dave Biggs said: “A town council is entitled to buy property and equipment and the exact details may be commercially sensitive, but the principle of spending the equivalent of a year’s budget buying property in another town should be the subject of public scrutiny.

“To put it into context this is the equivalent of Cornwall Council spending £1.2 billion buying property in Devon and not telling anyone.

“The principle of open and accountable local government means major decisions should be subject to scrutiny by the taxpayers of Camborne.

“No one got elected to Camborne Town Council on the manifesto commitment to spend £250,000 of public money in Redruth.”

Former Camborne mayor Jean Charman added: “If this is an open and transparent council, why is the decision to spend £250,000 of Camborne taxpayers’ money being held behind closed doors?”

Current councillor Jude Robinson was disappointed that much of the information has been kept from the public and said the council should not be afraid to make the case for this to taxpayers.

She said she would be asking for information to be put in the public domain tomorrow.

Camborne mayor Mike Champion said there simply was not anything suitable available in Camborne and the purchase would give the authority an asset at the end of the loan term.

He added: “At the moment we have got something that is not fit for purpose as it is not big enough.

“If we rented a property it is going to cost us about £12,000 a year. If we purchased a property over a 25-year period it would cost us about the same, the difference being that after the loan period the council would have an asset that could be used to benefit the town.

“We have to be financially responsible and, in my opinion, renting is not.

“We have to do something because, as an employer, we have to be responsible for the welfare of our staff.

“I do not think councillors who have criticised us are looking at this in the broadest of terms and they can’t see the long term benefits this will give us.”

Camborne town clerk Amanda Mugford said the authority was open in its decision-making processes, but sometimes sensitive information had to be discussed in private. She added: “The information is commercially sensitive. We would not want council taxpayers disadvantaged into having to pay more for premises because financial information had been divulged in public.

“Councillors, past and present, should realise the potential harm that could be caused by discussing such issues in the public domain.”

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5 comments

  • break  |  June 12 2013, 6:44PM

    Why does Camborne need a workshop,its not like the council does much in that department,who knows,if they have a bigger workshop maybe Camborne won't look so disgraceful.If this is being held behind closed doors,then some people could think that some councillor knows the people selling this industrial unit and might recieve some sort of payback for his services.Surely Cornwall Council knows this,so why does it always do everything behind closed doors?

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  • Cknocker  |  June 12 2013, 6:33PM

    In my opinion, I have to say buying the building has to be the best option, with regards to the decision making, its not difficult to manage: - The decison whether to buy or rent should be taken in open session, once that decision is taken the decision on exactly what to buy or rent that is subject to commercial confidentiality can be taken in closed session - simple??? With regards to the location of the building, the development plans of the last 10 years dictate that it has to be in Pool, why? The mantra of the whole regeneration scheme in the area has been: - 1. Thou Shalt Live in Camborne. 2. Thou Shalt Work in Pool. 3. Thou Shalt Play in Redruth. Has a result there has been an awful lot of housing built in Camborne and an awful lot of industrial development in Pool and Redruth - not sure what happened to the play bit - ah silly me I forgot Heartlands!

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  • josdave  |  June 12 2013, 3:44PM

    Jean Charman added: "If this is an open and transparent council, why is the decision to spend £250,000 of Camborne taxpayers' money being held behind closed doors?" Simple this is Cornwall Council and it seems to have been like this for a very long time now. No chance of democracy here.

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  • JAPSTO  |  June 12 2013, 3:11PM

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't. It does though seem a hell of a lot of money and a real shame nothing in Camborne can be found.

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  • Charlespk  |  June 12 2013, 1:12PM

    If all public officers had sound business acumen, particularly surrounding property and borrowing money, this country wouldn't be in the mess it's currently in. Transparency and sound advice for the long term is always required. The PPP funding in recent years has left government with crippling debts to fund. "A fire control centre in Taunton that has stood empty since being built in 2007 has been put up for rent." http://tinyurl.com/najjtaz

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