RIPLEY town councillors have offered to buy the town hall for 1p in a bid to secure its future.
All parties voted unanimously for the town council to “do all it could to ensure the town hall was not sold by Amber Valley Borough Council” after a meeting last week.
A Facebook page called ‘Save Ripley Town Hall’, which already has more than 350 members, has been set up by Helen Allsopp. She said: “I feel so strongly that AVBC are making a potentially huge mistake. I believe it is a short-term view to save money and long-term, could be devastating for the town. If AVBC no longer requires this building then surely they should be looking at ways to transfer it back to the town - not selling it?
“The statement that the exterior would be kept regardless of what happens does make me feel rather cold. So if a multi-national, fast-food establishment brought the site for the right price, as long as the exterior was kept it would be okay?”
An online petition has been created for people to sign and campaigners are collecting signatures on paper. Campaigners must gather 1,200 signatures before the borough council will consider the issue at a full council meeting.
Campaigner Jonathan Hunt, of Marehay, has been researching the town hall’s history and liaising with the Victorian Society and English Heritage in a bid to get the building listed.
The town council is now waiting for “historical data” relating to the upkeep of the building but estimates it would cost around £100,000 per year. Town council leader Cllr Steve Freeborn said: “The trouble is we can’t trust AVBC to keep it. If they take if off the market now, in two years they might change their mind. We think they’re overstating their financial troubles. They don’t need to do this.”
The town council is currently looking for a local solicitor and a chartered surveyor.
Amber Valley chief executive Peter Carney said: “The council hasn’t made a decision yet to sell the town hall – we are just looking for expressions of interest whilst we explore all the options available to us. We have to find a £2m saving over the next two years. One of those options is whether we reduce the costs of running office buildings and find savings that we could reinvest in services.”