RIPLEY Town Hall is no longer up for sale after a bid to take over running it by the town council was given the thumbs up – but it is set to mean an increase in council tax for residents.
The town council is set to take on a 99-year lease for the 120-year-old hall from owner Amber Valley Borough Council from April next year, it was announced on Wednesday.
The move will see the parish authority run, maintain and pay rent on the Market Place town hall at an estimated cost of £60,000 a year.
It comes after a campaign to keep the premises from being sold to a private developer gained 1,500 signatures in August.
Leader of the town council Cllr Steve Freeborn said: “The town council immediately said the building should not be for sale and it should be returned to the people of Ripley at no capital cost. It’s great news.”
Ripley town councillor Juliette Blake helped lead the ‘Save Ripley Town Hall’ campaign during the summer months. She said: “I’m over the moon about it. I’m absolutely delighted.
“I think it’s a real success story. It’s people power prevailing.
“A big fight was put up and the people were successful.”
Town councillors will vote on whether to increase the council tax precept in the Ripley area to cover for the extra cost of running the building at November’s meeting, when the authority will discuss its yearly budget.
Early predictions suggest a band D taxed home could have to pay £5 more a year to keep the building used as a meeting chamber for the council, a registrar’s office and police office. Weddings would take place as normal and the public would continue to have access to the Ripley Heritage displays.
The town council had originally made the borough council an offer of one penny to buy the hall in July. The building, still being considered for listed status by English Heritage, is valued at between £5 million and £7 million.
Leader of the borough council Stuart Bradford said the town council would not have to pay a capital sum to buy the building.
He said: “I think Ripley has got an excellent deal.”
However he felt the increase in council tax for Ripley residents would be ‘unnecessary’.
Currently Ripley Town Council receives a precept of around £97,000 a year. Cllr Freeborn responded to Mr Brafdford’s claim after the meeting, saying: “How we can find that money with our small budget without raising the council tax?”