Fears as hall costs soar

FEARS have been raised about the spiralling costs of providing a new community hall in Portishead. Portishead and North Weston Town Council has

FEARS have been raised about the spiralling costs of providing a new community hall in Portishead.Portishead and North Weston Town Council has agreed to fund the building of a new community hall above the proposed new Trinity Primary School at the village quarter.Initially councillors agreed to earmark £160,000 on the project, but now it seems as if the real costs of the project could at least double. At a meeting of Portishead and North Weston Town Council on Wednesday, councillors said they feared the project is being allowed an 'open chequebook'.Councillor Jon Gething said: "I do have concerns about the costs of the project and feel we are being railroaded into spending all this money."When the idea was first put forward it was estimated to cost in the region of £160,000 and now we are talking double that amount. We seem to be offering an open cheque."Other councillors said that if they didn't press ahead with the project, they could miss the boat altogether, leaving people moving into the new developments with no community facilities.Councillor Jean Lord said: "There are 1,650 homes planned for the village quarter area of the town."No other land has been earmarked in that area for a community facility of this kind. If we do not move forward with this, we risk losing the possibility altogether."Economically it makes sense to build the hall at the same time as the school is being constructed."Councillor Arthur Terry agreed the site at the village quarter was the right place for a new hall.Cllr Terry said: "I think a number of us have searched the area for an alternative site."One of the weaknesses of the whole development is that no area was identified for community facilities and there is an opportunity here."The governing body at Trinity Primary is responsible only for building the school and will not delay the project."Plans for the new school are due to go before planners in March.Councillors agreed to appoint a sub committee to negotiate a legal agreement with school governors to secure the community hall as part of the development.They also agreed to develop a service level agreement for the future management of the building.Councillors voted in favour of appointing a quantity surveyor to look in detail at the costs of the project.

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