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Decision time for future of landmark
5:00pm Friday 11th October 2013 in News
WORK on restoring the iconic Ledbury building, the Master’s House, could stop for good this month.
But councillors think it more likely Herefordshire Council will approve a large increase for the project’s budget.
October is the crunch month for the £3.5 million project as the cash-strapped council looks at either finding about £600,000 to complete it, or pull out.
Council officer Andy Tector, who is head of special projects, has produced a report for the consideration of the council’s cabinet member for enterprise and culture, Roger Phillips, who is set to make his decision on Wednesday.
Herefordshire councillor for Ledbury Liz Harvey said: “I anticipate that the decision will be in line with the report’s recommendation – to approve an additional £600,000 to see the project through to completion.”
But Mr Tector’s report shows Herefordshire Council has also considered pulling the plug.
The report offers, as an alternative to increasing the budget: “The refurbishment of the building does not continue and the building is made safe and weather-proofed and no further refurbishment works are under- taken. Consideration has been given to discontinuing the project.”
But the report makes it clear that grant funding from Heritage Lottery would then cease and the overall cost of stopping the project and securing the 15th-century building would be the same as completing the refurbishment.
The building is set to house the town’s new library when it re-opens at the end of next summer.
Coun Harvey revealed the project needed more money at a meeting of Ledbury Town Council last week.
She said that the rising costs could have an impact on a landscaping scheme planned for the surroundings, and added: “We might need to recycle shelving from our present library”.
Whatever Coun Phillip’s decision next week, it is likely to come before Herefordshire Council’s scrutiny committee on Monday, October 21, and an implementation of the final decision could take place as soon as Tuesday, October 22.
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