Homeowners vote against tax rise to pay for new village hall to be built

Homeowners have turned down proposals of a council tax increase in return for a long-awaited village hall – but the team behind the project is not giving up.

Congresbury residents have rejected proposals which would have seen a loan taken out to pay for the creation of a community hub at the recreation club in Stonewell Drive and the costs passed onto homeowners through a council tax increase.

The idea was brought forward in March by Congresbury Parish Council and Congresbury Village Hall Ltd, which has been campaigning for a multi-use building for the village's sports clubs and community groups for several years, receiving more than £100,000 in pledges.

A survey was sent to homeowners, who were told to expect a monthly tax increase of £1.25-3.66 if a Public Works Loan of £500,000 was taken out.

The project team believed the loan could make 25 years of hope for a new village hall 'come true', but almost two thirds of the 418 respondents rejected the proposal.

Project spokesman Ian Sheppard said: "The survey generated a lot of comment but only 28 per cent of households in the village responded.

"This is disappointing but the development committee has confirmed its commitment to move the project forward.

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"We have come so far and many villagers, organisations and businesses have put in a lot of time and effort in support of the project.

"We can now focus on other fundraising options."

When the survey was published, some argued Congresbury already has enough facilities, but Mr Sheppard is adamant the new hall is both needed and wanted.

He added: "Congresbury needs a new village hall and community centre which not only provides a home and supports our sports clubs but will provide a broader range of modern facilities and activities for all age groups in a growing village.

"As long ago as the 2007 parish survey, young people said they wanted somewhere to meet and chat with their friends.

"That has not happened but the new building will provide that.

"The new building is a part of the parish council's neighbourhood development plan and we will continue to work with it to make the new building happen."