Saturday, 18 February 2006

Why Redcar deserves a Civic Centre

Posted by Chris.

This picture, lifted from the Simon Hughes campaign website, is not very clear and looks more like an oil painting, but it illustrates exactly what my idea of a splendid Council Chamber is.

The photograph was taken of Simon addressing the Leeds Leadership Hustings on 4th February, in the Grand Council Chamber at Leeds Civic Hall.

Lit from outside by floodlamps shining through the windows, which gives a warm daylight feel to the room, this elegant building, with its two guilded owls on the exterior and Roman columns at the entrance, was opened in 1933 by King George V. It clearly is a fine place to promote Leeds as a city to invest in.

Whilst I would never suggest that we could provide civic facilities on the same grand scale in Redcar, we certainly need something much better than the shabby 1960's, Poulson designed Town Hall that we have got at present. Stuck out, right on the Middlesbrough end of the Borough, in the middle of a housing estate, it gives out the wrong image to those we hope will invest in the area and it dampens the moral of those who have to work in it.

Like most of the public buildings in our borough it has suffered from years of neglect by unambitious old Labour politicians. There are more modern Council offices in Redcar and Guisborough and the cost of travel and time between them is enormous.

The new Coalition has turned the Council from a failing organisation to a four star, excellent authority in less than three years and is keen to change the drab image of the Borough and at the same time reduce the amout of travelling between buildings. Last year we announced that we planned to sell off the old town hall and provide an impressive new Civic Centre in our main town, Redcar (pop 40,000), at a cost of around £3.5m. This is peanuts when you think some Labour Boroughs have spent nearer £100m on civic buildings.

Redcar was a Borough in its own right until 1967. Since then it has had its town hall sold off and has had little capital investment in the town for 40 years. Things are now changing, we are getting new schools, new shopping centres, a new college, a new hospital, a new swimming baths with a separate leisure pool, a visitor centre, a performance facility, new housing, major investment in the racecourse, huge investment in the sewage system and hopefully a new civic centre.

40 years on neglect in the town has bred a cynical attitude in some of our residents and every one of these proposals have attracted opposition, in most cases from the same negative half a dozen individuals who have ulterior political motives for doing so. The new administration is ambitious for the town and we are committed to restoring civic pride and encouraging investment. Posted by Picasa

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