Fears expressed over Midhurst Old Library ‘piecemeal’ plans

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Fears have been voiced over ‘piecemeal’ refurbishment of the Old Library in Midhurst, which town councillors are about to buy and begin to refurbish.

Margaret Guest has called for an ‘over-arching proposal’ of plans before money was set aside to carry out work.

She expressed her concerns at a meeting of the finance and policy committee when fellow town councillor Gordon McAra presented a business case for inclusion in the draft budget for £30,000 to carry out electrical and lighting work next year.

This was in addition to the figure earmarked for the purchase of the building, legal fees and renovations to the toilets and the kitchen.

But Mrs Guest told the meeting: “My fear is that if we do things piecemeal – like the electrics and the lighting – we don’t know what is round the corner and it would be nice to have enough money in the budget to make sure we have sufficient funds not just for the ongoing maintenance but for the development and refurbishment in the years ahead.”

She said town councillors had not seen an overall plan and she asked how over many years the development was planned: “it would be helpful to see the context of that.”

She added: “The issue for me is that we haven’t been involved in agreeing how we see this building developing.”

Claiming she had never heard some of the proposed refurbishment discussed by councillors, Mrs Guest told the meeting: “I am totally shocked by it all.”

“I am not confident we are approaching this is the most efficient and business-like way possible,” she told fellow councillors.

Gordon McAra told her: “This is a project over a number of years.” He said initial work would include bringing the toilets up to an acceptable standard, moving the kitchen and tidying up the meeting room. It made sense to include the electrical and lighting work while there was ‘considerable disruption’ for this work. A meeting of councillors would be held in the new year to walk round the building and discuss what work they wanted done.

Committee chairman Carol Lintott pointed out the council needed funding in place so once they owned the building, work could be carried out.

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