Tax rise could help community buy Midhurst’s old library

Town councillors helping to paint the old building when they took over the lease earlier this year
Town councillors helping to paint the old building when they took over the lease earlier this year
  • Midhurst town councillors are planning to sum a £50,000 sum in their budget to help pay for the old library
  • They want to preserve the 16th century building as an asset for the town
  • Raising funds themselves will quality them for matched funding

PLANS are moving forward to buy the old library on Knockhundred Row in Midhurst as a community facility and home for the town council.

Members of the finance and general purposes committee are recommending the town council to put a £50,000 sum in its budget for the next two years towards the £350,000 cost of buying the library from West Sussex County Council. They hope the move will enable them to secure matched funding for the project.

I don’t have a problem with seeing an increase providing its worth while

Chairman Carol Lintott presented the first version of the council’s draft budget to fellow councillors telling them it had been ‘fairly pared down for a good reason’.

She said: “We wanted to show you a draft budget with everything on it that we needed there for the council to function but without provision for funds towards the purchase of the old library.”

Using last year’s tax base she said it would result in a 6.6p drop to the town council’s share of the council tax bill for average band D payers next year.

“If we were to put in £50,000 for buying the old library it would result in an increase for band D tax payers of 47p,” she said.

Vice chairman of the council John Quilter stressed the base was so small compared with district or county council budgets that the percentage increase was meaningless.

“It’s a question of what we are providing and could provide because we are volunteers in a much more cost effective way than the county or district councils could be.”

He added: “I don’t have a problem with seeing an increase providing its worth while.”

It was important, he said, to set out clearly what the town council was proposing.

“This sum would be added to our budget for two years and it does create an increase, but this building has been here since the early 1600s. We need to preserve it as a landmark building for community activities and a long-term asset for the town to enjoy.

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