WISBECH: Town Council's bid to run Market Place declared non starter by FDC officers

PUBLISHED: 13:08 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:35 02 June 2010

WISBECH Town Council s bid to take over the running of the Market Square is a non starter, says a report from some of Fenland Council s most senior officers. Gary Garford, corporate director, will tell Cabinet members today: Officers are of the opinion t

WISBECH Town Council's bid to take over the running of the Market Square is a non starter, says a report from some of Fenland Council's most senior officers.

Gary Garford, corporate director, will tell Cabinet members today: "Officers are of the opinion that a mutually satisfactory transfer would be difficult to achieve."

He argued that there was a "significant difference" between what the town council thought it to be worth and what Fenland Council, the owners, felt it to be worth.

"The market square is a public open space and it is likely that all kinds of rights could be claimed over it," he said.

His report was being debated by Cabinet members as the Wisbech Standard went to press but it is inconceivable that the district council will agree to allow the town council to buy it.

And Mr Garford warned that even if the town council was successful in buying it, the chances are they would still look to Fenland Council to help manage it.

"It is evident that the town council does not have the resources and expertise to carry out the maintenance and management of the square and would have to acquire these services from alternative sources, but in all probability would look to FDC to provide" he said.

Mr Garford said the town council had placed a value of the asset at a nominal £1 but although transfer would save Fenland some money, there would still be a net loss to FDC of £40,000 per annum.

The town council stepped in to try and buy the market square after controversy flared over whether the market place should move towards pedestrianisation- an option now likely to be pursued by Fenland Council.

That could mean curtailment of blue badge parking in the market square but additional parking for disabled drivers would be made available in adjacent streets.

Pedestrianisation would have little environmental impact, said Mr Garford, there would be less vehicle emissions, less damage to infrastructure and reduced clutter.

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